Denny Simmons/Evansville Courier & Press via AP
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Sanders Takes West Virginia

Democrat Bernie Sanders wins again and vows to stay in the race.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont kept his faint hopes of becoming the
Democratic nominee for president alive on Tuesday. Sanders won the West
Virginia primary, winning more than 51 percent of the votes. Democratic front-
runner Hillary Clinton won 36 percent.

Still, Sanders’s victory did little to cut into Clinton’s big lead in the race for
delegates (party officials who will select the party’s nominee for president this
summer). Clinton has 1,716 delegates while Sanders has 1,430. Political experts
say it is highly unlikely that Sanders will overtake Clinton. However, Sanders
has vowed to keep fighting.

"We are in this campaign to win the Democratic presidential nomination,
and we are going to fight for every last vote," Sanders said after his victory on
Tuesday night. "We have an uphill climb ahead of us. But we are used to fighting
uphill climbs."

The Republicans also had a primary in West Virginia, and there was a
Republican primary in Nebraska. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump easily won both.
Those primaries were only formalities, as Trump is the only Republican
candidate left in the race after Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor
John Kasich dropped out last week.

Superdelegate Math

Most of the attention was on the Democrats on Tuesday. A Democrat
needs to win 2,383 delegates to earn the party’s nomination. Neither Sanders nor
Clinton are likely to reach that number solely with “pledged delegates.” Those are
the delegates that candidates win in the state-by-state elections. But when you
factor in superdelegates, Clinton is only about 144 delegates away from the
magic number. 

What are superdelegates? They are typically members of Congress, governors, other politicians, and Democratic National Committee members. Unlike pledged delegates, who must vote based on the results of the primary or caucus in their states, superdelegates can choose the candidate they’d like to support. Clinton currently has 523 superdelegates; Sanders has 39.

But superdelegates can change their minds. And that’s what Sanders hopes will happen, especially if he can catch—or at least come close to catching—Clinton in pledged delegates. However, that would be extremely difficult. Sanders would need to win nearly two-thirds of the remaining pledged delegates to do that.  

What’s Next?

Political experts are expecting Sanders to do well in the next Democratic
primaries, which will be held on May 17 in Kentucky and Oregon. The most
important showdown will be in California, on June 7.

Delegates are awarded based on the population of the state. States with
more people have more delegates. Because California is the most populous
state in the U.S., it has the most delegates up for grabs, with 546 for the
Democrats. Winning the California primary would likely be Sanders’s last shot at
the nomination.