This article titled “Bernie Sanders wins Wyoming caucus but Hillary Clinton picks up delegates” was written by Dan Roberts in Washington and Lauren Gambino in New York, for theguardian.com on Saturday 9th April 2016 23.55 UTC
Bernie Sanders won the smallest state in the Democratic nomination race by a smaller-than-expected margin on Saturday, as he celebrated a seven-election winning streak that has more psychological than mathematical impact.
The Vermont senator finished 12 points ahead of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton with 56%-44% of the vote in Wyoming, after a caucus that underlined his continued challenge to her among white voters drawn to his more radical economic platform.
The eventual margin of victory was slimmer than some pundits had anticipated and fell short of his recent 58.9%-to-40.4% win in neighbouring Colorado.
Nonetheless, it represented a convincing victory for a 74-year-old democratic socialist in one of the most conservative states the country.
In 2008, Barack Obama defeated Clinton in Wyoming by 61% to 38%, but fewer than a fifth of registered voters in the state are Democrats. Sanders has tended to fare better than Clinton in states using the caucus system rather than larger primary elections.
The small number of registered Democrats in Wyoming means that fewer than 6,000 caucus-goers taking part on Saturday helped to pick just 14 delegates for party’s national convention in Philadelphia in July. The result is unlikely to change the race much.
Early indications suggested that Sanders and Clinton would emerge with seven of these “pledged” delegates each. Clinton had earlier received endorsements from all four of the state’s so-called “superdelegates”.
These are most party officials who are not bound by the caucus result but can change their minds to reflect it and will now be under pressure from Sanders supporters to review their endorsements.
Sanders celebrated his win in New York, where he and Clinton have their eyes on the much larger primary vote a week on Tuesday.
“News bulletin: we just won Wyoming!” he announced to cheering supporters at a rally at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, after his wife Jane interrupted him onstage. But Sanders acknowledged it was only a step along a long road.
“There’s more people in this room than there are in Wyoming,” he joked, before thanking his supporters in the state for turning out in what may prove to be record numbers.
In a statement, the Sanders campaign said the Wyoming result extended the senator’s “victory streak”, describing it as his eighth victory in the last nine contests, including a recent Democrats abroad result.
Clinton, who was campaigning in a cheesecake store in New York, did not immediately respond to the result, but her supporters took solace from the narrower-than-feared loss and tight delegate margin.
Without mentioning Sanders’ Wyoming win, Clinton noted that she has earned 2.5 million more votes than anyone else running for president and leads the Democratic race in delegates.
“We’re on the path to the nomination,” Clinton said, to a deafening burst of applause.
“I need to win big here in New York,” she said, “because the sooner I can become the nominee I can turn and unify the Democratic party like I did with President Barack Obama and the sooner we can go after the Republicans full time.”
The former secretary of state did not campaign in Wyoming, leaving it to her husband, Bill, to appear in rallies against Sanders there.
Clinton got off to a particularly good start in the large county of Laramie, after reports of high numbers of surrogate ballots in her favour pointed to the effective organising ability of the campaign even though those in attendance were overwhelmingly pro-Sanders.
The delegate or two separating the candidates in Wyoming was dwarfed earlier on Saturday by revised totals published by the Sanders campaign, which said its national haul had been underestimated due to the ongoing process of allocating delegates in states like Washington and Nevada.
Ahead of Wyoming, the Sanders campaign claimed other recent wins meant it had reached 1,086 pledged delegates, more than 50 more than the widely used running tally calculated by the Associated Press reports.
“Senator Sanders won these recent contests by large and impressive margins,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager. “As a result, we have cut Secretary Clinton’s delegate lead by 101 since 15 April, which amounts to one third of her then total margin.
“That dramatic gain leaves us only 214 delegates behind – a margin we can and fully intend to surpass by the conclusion of voting on 14 June.”
AP explained the discrepancy, which is largely the result of a delay in allocating delegates from Sanders’ big win in Washington, following a lack of clear data from state party officials.
The Clinton campaign has accused its opponents of “stealing” delegates, by getting supporters to exploit multi-step convention processes in states like Nevada.
Regardless of which total is used, the Sanders campaign acknowledges it is unlikely to reach the 2,382 delegates needed to win the nomination outright. It is instead focusing its efforts on closing the pledged delegate gap, to the point where it can put pressure on Clinton’s superdelegates to change their minds at the convention.
Later, a Clinton campaign statement congratulated Sanders “on a spirited campaign in Wyoming” but said the former secretary of state had “outperformed expectations”.
Arriving at its own number for Clinton’s delegate lead, the statement said: “Hillary Clinton tied in pledged delegates today and now leads Senator Sanders by approximately 220 pledged delegates nationwide.”
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