Still, the electoral terrain going forward is mostly Northeast and West Coast states that are favorable to Bernie. It may be a long shot that he overtakes Hillary in the delegate count, but he will keep it close.
Meantime, Bernie is running virtually even with Hillary in the national polls, an astounding 35% gain in just about 10 months. For her part, Hillary has been losing support at almost as fast a pace, and her “unfavorable” rating among Democratic and Republican candidates going back to 1992 is second only to – you guessed it – Donald Trump.
So Bernie will almost certainly compete all the way to the Democratic convention in July, and the nomination itself likely will be contested.
On the surface, the contest is about who will be the nominee. But, behind the scenes, there is already a big debate taking shape about the future of the Democratic Party. It is about how to harness the energy and enthusiasm that Bernie has generated, particularly among the young, not just to win the Presidency, but to take back Congress and the state houses. That’s the only way to really “Get Things Done,” as Hillary likes to say.
Given the acrimony that has characterized the campaign of late, Hillary may be tempted to forsake Bernie and his supporters, to go it alone against the Republicans.
That would be a mistake.
The Republican attack machine is already gearing up to tear her down, and it won’t be that difficult given her negatives. Even if she wins against the likes of Donald Trump, she and the Democratic brand could be permanently damaged, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get anything done for years to come.
Hillary can help avoid that scenario. Among other things, she can call off her surrogate attack dogs, praise Bernie in public, and reach out to him behind the scenes to develop a common, progressive agenda that brings the Democratic Party together around a bold vision for the future.
With this Congress, most of the things likely to “Get Done” will only exacerbate income inequality and make matters worse for the poor and working classes of this country. That’s where Bernie and his supporters come in – it’s about the long haul – taking back Congress and changing the fundamental direction of the Democratic Party and the Nation.
Many Democrats are exhorting Bernie to stop criticizing Hillary to avoid further damaging her prospects in the general election. And that is probably not a bad idea.
But Hillary also needs to do her bit by showing Bernie (and his supporters) a little love.