This year, cable news channels have taken to naming dates on the presidential primary calendar like the Weather Channel likes to name winter storms -- not just Super Tuesday, but also Super Saturday, Super Tuesday II, and this past Tuesday’s Western Primary involving only three states.
But looking at news coverage ahead of Saturday’s three Democratic contests in Hawaii, Alaska, and Washington state, it might as well be called “Ignored Saturday.”
Following Tuesday’s contests, a lot of the political coverage for both parties focused on the Wisconsin primary scheduled for the week after next or contests further down the line like New York, Pennsylvania, and California.
And it’s not just the media; the candidates aren’t dedicating a lot of time to the states voting on Saturday either. Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane has been dispatched to Hawaii and Alaska. Hillary Clinton’s extent of campaigning in Alaska has been calling into a local radio morning show for 10 minutes.
Each candidate spent a day in Washington state, the big prize.
Why no love for these states?
It’s because they are holding only Democratic contests on Saturday and because those Democratic contests will have essentially no impact on the race.
Sanders is expected to win all three states, buoyed by the fact that Washington state holds caucuses (rather than a primary), which tend to be dominated by more left-leaning voters. (Hawaii is expected to be a tougher win, but still a win.)
But even if Sanders sweeps all three contests, he will not make a significant dent into Clinton’s lead. Unlike the Republican race, where some states give all delegates to the winner, Democratic contests award delegates proportionally. This means that even if Clinton loses all three states, she will still pick up delegates.
The structural problem for Sanders is that he has been winning small states with few delegates or big states by a small margin, so he isn’t racking up delegates. Clinton, on the other hand, has been winning big states by a big margin. This is why Clinton’s lead is so big.
This is also why attention has already turned to contests in bigger states later in the calendar where Sanders could make some inroads should he win.