Hillary Clinton appeared to handily win the caucuses in the Virgin Islands yesterday according to unofficial figures announced by the Democratic Party there, nudging her ever closer to clinching the nomination in her prolonged contest against Bernie Sanders.
There was no immediate indication of how many of the seven delegates at stake Clinton had picked up from the Virgin Islands, but she appeared poised to capture most if not all of them.
Unofficial results posted Saturday night on the Democratic Party’s Facebook page showed Clinton winning in St. Croix and St. Thomas, the two largest islands, with 92 percent and 88 percent of the vote, respectively. Sanders, meanwhile, captured 54 percent of the vote on the smaller island of St. John’s.
The contest in the Virgin Islands is one of two on the calendar this weekend in advance of six scheduled on Tuesday – including New Jersey and California – that are expected to push Clinton over the 2,383-delegate threshold to win the nomination, if announced superdelegates are factored in.
Sanders has argued that the votes of superdelegates – the elected officials and other party elites who aren’t bound by their state’s results – shouldn’t be counted until they are actually cast at the Democratic convention in July.
On Sunday, voters in Puerto Rico, another U.S. territory, participate in a primary where 60 delegates are at stake. Clinton is favored there as well.
In 2008, then-senator Barack Obama dominated in the U.S. Virgin Islands, winning nearly 90 percent of the vote against Clinton and sweeping all the pledged delegates at stake.
The Virgin Islands will also send five superdelegates to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this year. As of earlier Saturday, four of them had already announced support for Clinton.
Prior to Saturday night’s results, according to the latest Associated Press tally, Clinton was 67 delegates short of clinching the nomination, when superdelegates are factored in.
There’s wasn’t much polling to speak of in either the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.
Sanders made a campaign trip to Puerto Rico last month and has been airing television ads there. Clinton made a trip there in September.
The Clintons are far more familiar figures to Puerto Ricans – as former president Bill Clinton reminded them frequently last month on a day that saw him making six stops there, from the northern coast of the island to the southern one.
Clinton won Puerto Rico against Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary – claiming nearly 68 percent of the vote – and has outperformed Sanders this year among Hispanic voters. She has the endorsement of the territory’s governor, Alejandro García Padilla.
The politics of a pending bailout of the cash-strapped island could also factor into the primary results.
Sanders said this past week that he plans to introduce his own bill dealing with the Puerto Rico debt crisis after having slammed one supported by Obama and House leaders that Sanders said would make “a terrible situation even worse.”
The House bill has drawn criticism from some other quarters as well. Clinton has expressed concerns but said she wants to see the bill move forward to stop Puerto Rico’s problems from worsening.
Neither campaign invested heavily in the Virgin Islands. Bill Clinton campaigned there, but his wife did not. Neither Sanders nor his wife, Jane, made an appearance, although the Sanders campaign has aired a radio ad.
Clinton has been campaigning hard in advance of the California primary in hopes of avoiding what could be an embarrassing loss to Sanders as the nomination fight wraps up.
She told an enthusiastic crowd Friday in Culver City, California, that if “all goes well,” she would emerge Tuesday as the first woman to be selected as a major-party standard-bearer.
Clinton is expected to reach the 2,383-delegate threshold after the polls close in New Jersey – three hours ahead of California.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · John Wagner