It’s the end of the world as Sanders knows it. Every poll that’s been done today shows he’ll at least lose Maryland and Pennsylvania. Almost every poll shows Hillary having a smaller lead in Connecticut and Delaware (small, white New England states he should win). He may not even win Rhode Island, although that’s definitely his best bet for a win.
And yet there’s almost no chance he’ll actually drop out. Nate Silver projects that if tonight’s early forecasts hold, Sanders will need to win %65 of remaining delegates to win the nomination. Yet he’s also losing in every poll for Indiana, California, Kentucky, and especially New Jersey. By any measure of “winning” he’s lost. Yet he won’t quit, can’t quit, and isn’t going to quit probably even after Hillary hits the number she needs (which I think will happen before the June primary states).
Even worse: his fans seem to think the election is being “stolen” from him, and are questioning every single state he loses even if it’s a blowout. He is spreading a rancid distrust of the American voting process, and many of his fans now think we’re only slightly better than Iran in terms of honest elections. It’ll probably only get worse as he keeps continuing to lose, with his fans looking slack-jawed and stupified that their candidate—who has never once been ahead of Hillary in a single poll—lost.
On the Republican side, it’s very likely and perhaps even probable that Donald Trump will sweep tonight’s contests. His victories over Cruz and Kasich (who?) will be even more lop-sided. Yet there’s also no doubt that neither Cruz nor the pitiful Kasich will actually quit the race. This makes sense in Cruz’s case, and also sense in a general way because their whole strategy is to go for a brokered convention and neither really expects to win outright.
Yet it’s also worth noting that Marco Rubio quit 5 weeks ago, but he still has more delegates and victories (a state and two territories over Kasich’s singular win) than John Kasich. We’ve now entered into a parallel universe where it really doesn’t matter if you actually win or lose an election, because you can just keep running seemingly indefinitely. For all intensive purposes, Bernie Sanders lost this race March 15th, and John Kasich literally did lose it that day (the last he could have cleared the delegate threshold), but I think we’ll be seeing them until the last states vote. And perhaps—sigh—even after that. One could easily imagine Bernie continuing his campaign even after the convention, and his loyal band of Kool-Aid drinkers still insisting he’s got a real shot “to take it all the way to The White House.”