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Bernie Sanders Narrows Clinton's Lead With Wins in Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii

The Vermont senator earned his first sweep against Hillary Clinton on a night with multiple contests, but he'll have to continue his winning streak with large margins to overcome her edge.

by Liz Fields
Mar 27 2016, 1:50pm

Photo by Mason Trinca/Yakima Herald-Republic/APMichael Owen Baker/AP

Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential caucuses in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state on Saturday, earning his first sweep against Hillary Clinton on a night with multiple contests.

In Washington, where 101 pledged delegates are up for grabs, Sanders scored 73 percent of the vote compared with Clinton's 27. He ended the night with a 82-18 percent lead over Clinton in Alaska, which only has 16 pledged delegates. In Hawaii, which has 25 pledged delegates, Sanders captured nearly 70 percent of the vote.

"Nobody should have any doubt that this campaign has extraordinary momentum and that we have a path toward victory," Sanders said after the Hawaii victory was announced. "In state after state, our grassroots effort has taken on the entire political establishment. We have taken on the senators and the governors and the mayors and the members of Congress. Our political revolution is the best chance we have to keep Donald Trump or any other Republican out of the White House."

Sanders was speaking to a crowd of some 8,100 supporters at the University of Wisconsin when his victory in Washington was projected Saturday evening. His wife, Jane Sanders, broke the news to her husband by walking on stage and whispering into his ear. The senator immediately turned to the crowd and announced the news.

"Ready for a news alert, we just won the state of Washington!" he declared. "Don't let anybody tell you we can't win the nomination or we can't win the general election. We're going to do both of those things."

The outcome of the weekend's elections will help Sanders narrow Clinton's lead, but she is still ahead by a large number of delegates and he will have to continue his winning streak with large margins to overcome her edge. On Saturday morning, Clinton had 1,223 pledged delegates compared to 929 for Sanders. Based on that count, Sanders will have to win 58 percent of remaining pledged delegates to nab a majority by the time the Democratic convention rolls around in July. Clinton also has the support of 469 superdelegates — who can support whichever candidate they choose regardless of the outcome of their state's primary or caucus — versus just 29 for Sanders. A total of 2,383 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination.

Related: Phoenix Mayor Asks Justice Department to Investigate Alleged Voter Suppression in Arizona

Sanders campaigned heavily in several cities across Washington, and has spent much of this week there, while Jane attended events in Hawaii and Alaska. Just last week, Sanders filled the 17,000-seat Key Arena in Seattle, with a few thousand more packing an overflow area outside. He also drew some 7,000 to an event on the Yakama Nation's treaty territory.

"Native Americans have been lied to. They've been cheated," he told cheering supporters at the event. "If elected president, there will be a new relationship with the Native American community," Sanders pledged. The "first Americans," he said, have enriched our country's culture and "taught us respect for our environment."

Clinton also campaigned in Washington ahead of the vote on Saturday. The former secretary of state spoke to Boeing workers and others at the Machinists Union in Everett, Washington, this week. Clinton also drew thousands to a rally at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle on Tuesday.

"I have fought for the right to organize and bargain, fought for the middle-class," Clinton said at the Machinists event. "I am not the latest flavor of the month; I've been doing this day in and day out."

But Sanders, who drew 15,000 people to an early rally in Seattle last summer that brought national attention to the size of his potential support, ultimately won Washington. Two days before the caucus, Sanders who picked up a major West Coast union endorsement from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents about 50,000 workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

The Sanders campaign has said repeatedly that the senator had a good shot at winning Alaska, Hawaii, Washington and several other western states and is banking their hopes for the Democratic nomination on other nights like this one, especially in California and New York, which hold the most delegates.

On Saturday, the campaign opened its first office in New York City with a block party in Gowanus, Brooklyn ahead of the April 19 primary in New York. The launch was attended by several hundred people, including surrogates like former Ohio Senator Nina Turner, who surprised observers in December by endorsing Sanders after having been involved with Clinton PACs and an organizing event for the former secretary of state.

Related: Bernie Sanders Thinks He Can Win the West, but That Probably Won't Be Enough

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields

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