Is Bernie Sanders a Spoiler?

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally at Drexel University in Philadelphia, April 25, 2016. (Photo: Mark Makela / The New York Times)

Get ready for more complaints about how Bernie Sanders is helping the Republicans win the White House because … well, he just won’t stop asking people to vote for him.

Leading Democrats were testing out this line — that Sanders was hurting the Democrats’ chances against the Republicans by not bowing to the inevitable and surrendering the party’s presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton — before a single primary was held, back in January.

But the “hey Bernie, stop spoiling our party” chorus picked up volume after Clinton’s double-digit victory in New York last week, and will get louder still after Tuesday’s five primaries, all in the Northeast. Clinton won handily in the two biggest states of the night, Pennsylvania and Maryland, though Sanders won Rhode Island and came close in Connecticut.

Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates to the July convention — the ones chosen by voters — is commanding. At this rate, she probably won’t need the unelected and undemocratic “superdelegates” — party officeholders and assorted insiders and operatives who were all going to vote for her anyway — to clinch the nomination.


So Bernie Sanders is back to being the longest of long shots to win the Democratic presidential nomination. But to put it in these terms downplays what his campaign has accomplished.

Clinton is a consummate party insider — and the Democrats’ heir apparent since right after Barack Obama won the last presidential election. Yet a self-declared socialist who wasn’t even a party member until he began his campaign last year made a serious challenge for the nomination.

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