Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who was clobbered by former Vice President Joe Biden once again in Tuesday’s primary contests, said on Wednesday he will stay in the race, arguing that exit polls show there is support for his progressive agenda and that he remains the candidate doing best among young voters.
But in his remarks, delivered from his home of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders failed to explain what any path forward to the nomination looks like. Instead, he simply said he looked forward to Sunday, when he plans to debate Biden in an Arizona primary that will have no live audience due to coronavirus concerns.
“Last night obviously was not a good night for our campaign from a delegate point of view,” Sanders said. But, he said, “We are strongly winning in two enormously important areas which will determine the future of our country.”
Those two areas, he continued, are support for some of his proposals regardless of his performance in the state. One state where Sanders has a point is Mississippi, where NBC News’ exit poll showed 62% of Democratic primary voters support Medicare for All. Biden won the primary there.
The other, he said, was the youth vote, a demographic Democrats worry about isolating. “Today I say to the Democratic establishment, in order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country, and you must speak to the issues of concern to them. You cannot simply be satisfied by winning the votes of people who are older,” Sanders said. Sanders has consistently done well with young voters, a demographic he has dominated with.
Sanders, known for his stubbornness and who drew out the 2016 primary only after a bitter fight, will likely now be working to keep his agenda in the spotlight. If there’s a repeat of 2016, and he stays in the race well after his path to the nomination had disappeared, his persistence may pay off: By the time he endorsed Hillary Clinton then, she had made major concessions on several issues, like free college and a $15 an hour minimum wage.
“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,” Sanders conceded. His highly anticipated remarks were billed as a campaign update. He did not take any questions.