Notching One More Win, Sanders Vows to Fight 'Until Last Vote is Cast'
Hillary Clinton claims victories in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, while Rhode Island goes for Bernie
Updated 9:15 pm EST
Less than two hours after the polls closed on Tuesday, major networks declared Hillary Clinton the winner in Maryland, Delaware, and delegate-rich Pennsylvania.
Bernie Sanders notched a strong victory in Rhode Island while in Connecticut the two Democratic candidates were locked in a tight contest. As of this writing, Sanders was projected to have 50 percent of the vote, holding a 2 point lead over Clinton.
Speaking in Huntington, West Virginia shortly after polls closed, Sanders reminded the crowd how far the campaign had come and how, originally, the media dismissed him as a "fringe" candidate.
"The media said, 'You know Bernie is a nice guy, Bernie combs his hair really well, [is a] top notch dresser'," the candidate joked, "'but nonetheless he really is a fringe candidate. The campaign is a fringe campaign not to be taken seriously.'"
"And in the middle of all of that," Sanders continued, "we were taking on the most powerful political organization in America. An organization that elected a president, President [Bill] Clinton, on two occasions and an organization that ran a very strong campaign for Secretary Clinton in 2008."
Similarly, in an email to supporters Tuesday evening, the Senator expanded on this idea, writing:
Our path to the nomination was never narrower than the day I announced my candidacy. I will not stop fighting for an America where no one who works 40 hours a week lives in poverty, where health care is a right for all Americans, where kids of all backgrounds can go to college without crushing debt, where there is no bank too big to fail, no banker too powerful to jail, and we've reclaimed our democracy from the billionaire class.
He added that "any victories and any votes" are a repudiation of the status quo and are "a public declaration of support for the values we share."
"The political establishment wants us to go away so they can begin their march to the center," he continued, vowing to keep up the fight next week in Indiana, "and in each state moving forward."
Speaking from Philadelphia, Clinton made a direct appeal to Sanders supporters, pledging to "unify" the party and saying, "Whether you support Senator Sanders or you support me, there's much more that unites us than divides us."
On the GOP side, frontrunner Donald Trump cemented his status after he was projected the winner in all five of the states.
Bernie Sanders will "reassess" his candidacy after Super Tuesday 4 but has vowed to remain in the race until California, even if the delegate results are not in his favor.
"Reassess does not mean that he's not going to be part of this race," his senior strategist Tad Devine told the New York Times on Tuesday. "Reassess does not mean that his message, that we think is the most powerful message, is going to change."
In Connecticut, 55 delegates will be awarded proportionally in the state's closed primary. Rival Hillary Clinton has a slight edge in Connecticut (48 to 46 percent), according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Monday.
Twenty-one delegates will be awarded based on the results of Tuesday's voting in Delaware's closed primary. The first 2016 Delaware public poll, released just days before the primary, showed Clinton ahead of Sanders, 45-38 percent.
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In Maryland's closed primary, where turnout is expected to be high in part due to a high-profile U.S. Senate race, there are 95 Democratic delegates at stake, which will be divided proportionally. Recent polls have shown Clinton leading Sanders by double-digits in Maryland.
Pennsylvania offers the biggest potential delegate haul, with 189 delegates up for grabs—127 of which are handed out based on the results in individual Congressional districts, while 62 are pledged based on statewide totals. Clinton, who holds an ever-narrowing lead in Pennsylvania, plans on holding her primary night event at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Rhode Island, where just 24 delegates are at stake, is leaning toward Sanders, who leads Clinton 49-45 percent in the most recent poll. Rhode Island's primary is "semi-closed," meaning that if you're registered with a specific party, you can only vote in that party's primary, but if you're "unaffiliated," you can vote in the primary of your choosing.
News outlets reported last week that Rhode Island's Board of Elections plans to open only 144 of the state's 419 polling places for the April 26 primary, cutting the number by two-thirds compared with a typical November election.
According to NBC News, Sanders has outspent Clinton by nearly double in the states holding primaries.
As voters went to the ballots in Pennsylvania, Sanders shook hands with residents and made stops at a local bookstore and cafe. He also confirmed to reporters that he would not be dropping out of the race in the event of an unfavorable voting day.
"The answer is, we are in this race until the last vote is cast," Sanders said. "The people of California have a right to determine who they want to see as president of the United States and what kind of agenda they want the Democratic Party to have."
On Monday, the senator held a rally at the University of Pittsburgh. He told the more than 800 supporters who attended, "From coast to coast people are standing up, they are fighting back and they are saying that we need a government that works for all of us, not just wealthy campaign contributors."
Recent polls indicate it's unlikely that Sanders will take the state, which would give him an imperative boost. Still, the campaign is holding onto its continued optimism.
As Devine told the Times, "If we don't get enough today to make it clear that we can do it by the end, it's going to be hard to talk about it. That's not going to be a credible path. Instead, we will talk about what we intend to do between now and the end and how we can get there."
We may decide we have to pick up some more delegates in some of these caucus states. We may decide we have to pick up some more delegates in some of these caucus states. Maybe we have to get some more people on the ground between now and the state conventions some place because we are not going to win as many as we thought we were going to win in primaries. But we have got to make up the difference elsewhere—that's the reassessment.
At the rally in Pittsburgh, Sanders promised that a high voter turnout in the state would bring him a win. "Let's have the largest voter turnout in Pennsylvania history," he said.