The Bernie Sanders campaign struck back at Hillary Clinton on Thursday for her statement that the Democratic presidential nominating process was "already done," pointing to not only the nine remaining contests, but also poll after poll showing Sanders outperforming Clinton in hypothetical match-ups against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Clinton told CNN on Thursday: "I will be the nominee for my party. That is already done, in effect. There is no way that I won't be."
But Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs, in a strongly worded statement issued late Thursday afternoon, begged to differ.
"In the past three weeks voters in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton," Briggs said. "We expect voters in the remaining nine contests also will disagree. And with almost every national and state poll showing Sen. Sanders doing much, much better than Secretary Clinton against Donald Trump, it is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign."
A new Rasmussen poll published Friday finds Sanders ahead of Trump, 45-41 percent, but Trump ahead of Clinton, 42-37 percent.
The polling group wonders: "Are Democrats on track to nominate the wrong candidate?"
Meanwhile, a CBS News/New York Times poll released Thursday evening showed Sanders ahead of Trump by 13 points, 51 to 38 percent—more than double Clinton's six-point lead over the New York real estate mogul.
The same poll found that 52 percent of Democratic primary voters would enthusiastically support Sanders if he were the nominee, compared to 44 percent who feel that way about Clinton. The majority of both Clinton and Sanders supporters said they see the length of the nomination process as a positive.
Notably, CBS reported, "This is a reversal from 2008, when Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in the primaries. Back then, when asked a similar question, more than half of Democratic primary voters thought the long nomination fight would hurt their nominee."
In fact, noted Guardian columnist Trevor Timm on Thursday:
Around this time in 2008, Clinton was still heavily criticizing the inevitable nominee Barack Obama and making divisive statements that make this primary campaign look like a walk in the park. How quickly everyone forgets (or pretends not to remember.) In fact, some of the issues Clinton once criticized Obama for are now the same issues that Sanders hits Clinton on. Clinton supporters had no problem with it then, but are now feigning being offended.
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Perhaps then the "fury" against Sanders that is reportedly "growing in Clinton World," as The Hill's Amie Parnes put it, is more reflective of establishment Democrat priorities than what voters want.
As Timm wrote this week:
There is nothing worse than Democratic establishment politicians decreeing that Sanders must drop out or feigning horror that his supporters sometimes don’t unquestionably support other Democratic politicians on 100% of the issues.
Again, let’s look back at the 2008 race: the Clinton camp said she had every right to stay in the race for as long as she wants, even though it was clear that Obama would win. She even said one of her reasons was “we all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California” before the Democratic convention in 1968. If Sanders said something like that he would be raked over the coals (and rightly, I might add).
It’s not politicians who should be dictating when Sanders drops out, that’s the voters’ job. And Sanders, despite finding his mathematical chance increasingly dwindling, continues to win primaries. [On Tuesday] he won Oregon, for example. So it seems that voters don’t want him to drop out, only the politicians who are tied to the system he is constantly criticizing do.
Similarly, Clinton supporters are putting "excessive focus on how Sanders will help Democrats unify the party," Kevin Gosztola wrote Wednesday at ShadowProof. "This is what the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee want the public to be concerned about," he said, "so citizens overlook the extent of their collusion."
Indeed, despite the incessant push for Sanders to draw down his campaign, "between mid-May and late July countless things could happen that would cause super-delegates to move toward Sanders en masse," argued attorney and freelance journalist Seth Abramson at the Huffington Post—a development that would significantly change the primary narrative.
"A win in the California primary could be chief among them," he said.
As has been exhaustively explained to both Clinton and the mainstream media over the past year, and as Clinton herself says during the interview above — “the name of the game is delegates” — should enough super-delegates switch their votes to Sanders in late July on the argument that he’s more electable than Clinton in the fall (the conventional metric used by super-delegates forced to decide a primary since 1984), Clinton will not, in fact, be the Democratic nominee. Indeed many believe that a Clinton loss in the California primary — coupled with a string of polls showing Clinton tied with or losing to Donald Trump in every battleground state as well as behind the unpredictable billionaire nationally — could cause super-delegates to switch their votes in large numbers.
Sanders will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Friday afternoon and is returning to California on Saturday ahead of the state's June 7 primary.