Bernie Sanders should stop with the superdelegates already

Senator Bernie Sanders.
Senator Bernie Sanders.Matthew Brown/AP/file 2016

It should be clear by now that US Senator Bernie Sanders is not convincing anyone that he has a path to win the Democratic nomination.

Yes, he had an impressive win over Hillary Clinton in West Virginia on Tuesday. But since March, the Sanders campaign has been talking up how it can get superdelegates to flip from Clinton, particularly those from states where Sanders won big.

In the nearly two months since Sanders has been making that argument, even at times when he had some political momentum, it wasn’t happening. The minds of superdelegates are made up, it seems, and the more likely Clinton appears to be the nominee, the greater the incentive will be to stick with her.


In other words: The superdelegate strategy hasn’t worked. Not even close.

Perhaps it’s time for Sanders to stop using the superdelegates argument for staying in the race. Who knows? Maybe that honesty will actually make picking up delegates a little easier.

Since his campaign began to really take off in the fall, Sanders made it clear that he planned to run full-scale operations in all 50 states. This was a “political revolution,” not a one-year campaign.

In the final weeks of the primary, Sanders might want to focus on this message instead of superdelegates. He doesn’t have to concede anything to Clinton, but the Sanders campaign has been about two things for some time: getting as many delegates as a possible to change the Democratic National Committee from the inside, and using the campaign build a large database of Sanders-minded progressive in every state for future elections.

After all, the long-term payoff for Sanders in South Dakota today is that the next underdogs progressive to run for city council or Congress will have a network of donors and activists they can tap. Data from who shows up to his rallies today, who commits to vote for Sanders, and who volunteered at phone banks can be used again. If Sanders had not campaigned in South Dakota, those lists might not ever have been created in the first place.


Being honest about building a progressive political infrastructure for the long term is something that even many Clinton supporters could get behind, as long as they don’t think it will harm the party in the short term.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at www.bostonglobe.com/groundgame.