Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will drop out of the Democratic primary if, by the time of the Democratic National Convention, former Vice President Joe Biden has a plurality of delegates, Sanders told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday.
What’s this about?
Democratic primary candidates need a majority (1,991 delegates) in order to secure the nomination. Projections have shown throughout the primary so far that there is a significant chance that no candidate gets that many.
If no candidate gets a majority, the primary goes to a second ballot. Superdelegates can vote on the second ballot. Superdelegates make up about 15% of all delegates, and can include major elected officials, former presidents or vice presidents, and prominent members of the Democratic National Committee.
So what is Sanders saying?
Sanders is saying he will concede the nomination to Biden, even if Biden only has a plurality, rather than a majority, of delegates. In doing so, Sanders said he would forfeit a chance to win the nomination through a contested convention because he doesn’t want a person with fewer votes potentially winning the nomination.
“I think it would be a real, real disaster for the Democratic Party,” Sanders said of a contested convention. “People would say ‘the person who won the most votes didn’t get selected.’ Not a good idea.”
Why would he do this?
On one hand, you could view this as Sanders sticking to his dislike of superdelegates and his loyalty to the will of the people. More likely, however, Sanders is probably just trying to set a standard for the convention that he hopes Biden will follow if Sanders enters the convention with a plurality.
The truth is, if Biden enters the convention with a plurality and Sanders pushes it to the second ballot, Biden would likely win most of the superdelegates and get the nomination anyway because he’s the establishment candidate. Sanders conceding would just make that process easier. But if Sanders, who is openly hostile to the Democratic establishment, enters with a plurality and Biden pushes it to a second ballot, there’s a significant chance that Sanders will have the nomination taken from him.
Right now, Biden has 595 delegates and Sanders has 528. Biden has all the momentum right now, having won 580 of his 595 delegates in the past seven days with big wins in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday.