The following was written by Corey Ealons:
After a stunning victory in the South Carolina presidential primary, driven by the extraordinary support of African American voters from across the state, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton can expect a very good day on Super Tuesday when 11 states will hold primary or caucus elections.
More than half of the states in the so called SEC Primary will be based in the South and have a similar voter profile to South Carolina with more than half of the Democratic electorate comprised of African Americans. If black voters show up for Clinton in the same numbers they did in South Carolina, it could all be over but the shouting in the Democratic nomination process.
Two of the states on the ballot Tuesday are virtually home turf for Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as Arkansas, where Clinton served as first lady, and Vermont are both holding primaries. That leaves nine states in play and just under 600 delegates up for grabs.
Sanders has worked to connect with African American voters, garnering key endorsements from some African American leaders, and Hollywood director Spike Lee even cut radio ads for his campaign, but it just hasn’t been enough.
While Sanders has pushed an economic message of equal opportunity for all Americans–a message that should resonate strongly with African Americans–black voters in South Carolina viewed securing President Obama’s legacy as a critical mission for the next president, and they trust Hillary Clinton to do just that. It’s probably safe to assume that other black voters will think so as well.
The delegates continue to be distributed to winners proportionately by congressional district, but even with that, Sanders is not expected to have a big haul Tuesday night. Combine that with the number of super delegates–designated elected officials and party leaders who serve as convention delegates–who are pledged to back Clinton, and many will begin to declare the race over.
However, that doesn’t mean Sanders will have to exit the race immediately. His is a campaign, as he is not shy about repeating, that is fueled by the grassroots, not super PACs or big money donations. As long as his supporters continue sending him those $27 checks, he can continue to run a credible long-shot campaign. He also has a large devout fan base that continues to support him and a campaign that continues to draw key endorsements.
However, at some point even if the money continues to come, the delegate math becomes insurmountable. That’s what Clinton found out in 2008 when then Sen. Barack Obama upended her all-but-certain bid for the nomination. The math is very simple, and once there are fewer delegates to collect than already awarded the fight becomes futile.
While this race is far from over according to the presidential primary calendar, the fat lady is warming up in the wings. If Sanders truly cares about the issues he has espoused during the past year of his campaign, he will stay on the trail and encourage his donors and supporters to work for the Democratic nominee–Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Corey Ealons is a senior vice president with VOX Global, a Washington, DC based communications firm, and a former White House spokesperson for President Barack Obama. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyEalons.