Bernie Sanders vowed to soldier on to a “contested” Democratic National Convention despite projections that Hillary Clinton will reach the 2,383 delegates necessary for the party’s nomination after polls close in New Jersey on Tuesday.
At a press conference in Los Angeles on Saturday, the Vermont senator said media projections expected to dub Clinton the presumptive nominee are “simply not accurate” because they include superdelegates — elected officials and party leaders who will not cast their votes until the convention in Philadelphia in July. Superdelegates back Clinton by a wide margin, but Sanders hopes he can get them to defect.
“In terms of delegate math I think there is some confusion in the media,” Sanders said. “It is extremely unlikely that Secretary Clinton will have the requisite number of pledged delegates to claim victory on Tuesday night.”
Sanders cited an interview that Luis Mirander, Democratic National Committee communications director, gave to CNN in April, in which he said that superdelegates should not be included in delegate totals on primary and caucus nights. Instead, Sanders said the DNC should prepare for a “contested convention.”
In 2008, when Barack Obama secured the Democratic nomination over Clinton, the race was called in early June based on a combination of pledged and superdelegate support. Clinton quickly suspended her campaign. Obama was formally nominated at the party’s convention in August.
Saturday’s press conference mirrored one Sanders had in Washington on May 1, following his losses in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland days earlier. At the time Sanders said it was unfair that only seven percent of superdelegates had backed his campaign when he had won approximately 45 percent of the pledged delegates.
Since then, Sanders — long an independent in Congress, who joined the Democratic Party in 2015 in order to contest the primary — has made the case repeatedly in interviews and at rallies that superdelegates should support him based on the strength of against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in various opinion polls, and on the excitement his campaign has generated.
“It is very clear that Donald Trump’s negative ratings are enormously high, unprecedented for a major party presidential candidate, and Secretary Clinton’s negative ratings are also very, very high,” he said.