Election 2020

Sanders Hopes 'Thought Is Now Gone' That He Can't Beat Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, and his wave Jane acknowledge the crowd as he arrives for his caucus night rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Monday, Feb. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Locked in a tight Iowa finish with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Hillary Clinton’s Iowa director declared around 2:30 a.m. Central time that there was no way for the socialist senator to come back.

“Hillary Clinton has won the Iowa Caucus,” Hillary for America’s Iowa State Director Matt Paul said in a statement. “After thorough reporting – and analysis – of results, there is no uncertainty and Secretary Clinton has clearly won the most national and state delegates.”

“Statistically, there is no outstanding information that could change the results and no way that Senator Sanders can overcome Secretary Clinton’s advantage,” Paul added.

But the photo finish with 100 percent of results in — 49.8 percent for Clinton, 49.6 percent for Sanders, according to the Iowa secretary of state — means that delegates will effectively be split. In a few precincts, the two were tied and the odd delegate was decided by coin toss.

And the Associated Press sent out an alert a short time ago noting that the race is still too close for the wire service to call.

“Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has not conceded and the state Democratic Party has not responded to AP’s questions about whether they intend to do a recount of the caucus reports of candidate support,” said the alert. “The party’s delegate selection plan requires that the state party certify the results and report them to the Democratic National Committee within three days of that certification. But the plan does not spell out what such a certification would involve.”

The close finish means that Clinton, who had a 56 percent poll advantage over Sanders in Iowa a year ago, lost serious ground.

“Despite the breathless spin coming from Team Clinton this morning, Clinton’s tie with Sanders last night was a loss for her campaign,” said Jeff Bechdel, communications director for the America Rising PAC. “Secretary Clinton desperately needed to come away from Iowa with some kind of victory, but instead she came up short in Iowa once again and has no momentum going into New Hampshire, where she badly trails Senator Sanders.”

“Regardless of any campaign retooling that may follow, the inherent problem with the Clinton campaign is the flawed candidate, and that’s something they won’t be able to fix,” Bechdel added.

Sanders told CNN this morning that “whether we lose by a fraction of a point or we win or whatever, we are very proud of the campaign that we won.”

“And I think the significance is that — for folks who did not think Bernie Sanders could win, that we could compete against Hillary Clinton, I hope that that thought is now gone. We’re going to fight really hard in New Hampshire. Then we’re going to Nevada, then we’re going to South Carolina. We look forward to doing well around the country,” he said.

Regardless of that 0.2 percent lead, Sanders stressed that he “absolutely” considers last night a victory over Clinton.

“Look, what you are talking about is one way or the other, a couple of delegates when we’re going to need 2,300 delegates to win this thing,” the senator said.

Sanders vowed that the “gap is growing slimmer and slimmer between the secretary and myself” when it comes to the support of minority voters — a key consideration heading into South Carolina on Feb. 20, where Hillary is currently heavily favored to win. “I think you will find, as we get to South Carolina and other states, that when the African- American community, the Latino community looks at our record, looks at our agenda, we’re going to get more and more support.”

Clinton did not speak to news shows the morning after. Her victory speech in Des Moines last night was brief.

“It is rare that we have the opportunity we do now, to have a real contest of ideas. To really think hard about what the Democratic Party stands for and what we want the future of our country to look like if we do our part to build it. I am a progressive who gets things done for people,” she told the crowd.

“I am excited about really getting into the debate with Senator Sanders about the best way forward to fight for us and America. In the last few weeks, we finally began to have what I think is one of the most important substantive conversations that the Democratic Party could have. And I am thrilled at all of the people who are playing a part in that,” Clinton continued.

“I know that we may have differences of opinion about how best to achieve our goals. But I believe we have a very clear idea that the Democratic Party and this campaign stands for what is best in America. And we have to be united.”