Politics is weird. Hillary Clinton, born in Chicago and the former first lady of Arkansas, claims New York as her home state. It’s where she served as a senator and where her family now lives. Bernie Sanders, born in Brooklyn, claims Vermont as his home state. It’s where he has served as senator and where his family now lives. So despite Sanders being about as New York as you can be, it is Clinton who gets home-field advantage in the state’s primary next month.

Whether or not New Yorkers view as one of their own, they clearly prefer Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. Polling has repeatedly shown Clinton with a lead in the state; a new survey from Quinnipiac University, released on Thursday, has Clinton up by 12 percentage points.

This comes on the heels of a survey showing Sanders stretching out his lead in Wisconsin. Sanders is up four points in that state, according to a Marquette Law School survey released this week.

But we must be clear: These states are not equivalent. This is not a tie, with Clinton winning one state and Sanders winning another. It is, instead, a clear demonstration of why Bernie Sanders almost certainly won’t be the Democratic nominee.

imrs.phpAfter all, it comes down to delegates. Wisconsin has 86 delegates; New York has 247. Since the party distributes its delegates proportionally, that means that Sanders’s slight Wisconsin lead would earn him a slightly bigger portion of the state’s small delegate haul. Clinton’s larger New York lead would earn her a larger portion of the state’s large delegate haul.


If the New York poll results hold, Sanders would need a much larger win in Wisconsin to match Clinton’s New York haul. If the delegates in both states are fully proportional, Sanders would need to win Wisconsin by 38 points to gain as many delegates as Clinton would by winning New York by 12.

That’s very unlikely. For all of the talk about Sanders’s momentum after his massive caucus wins last week, that momentum hasn’t led to a massive surge in Wisconsin. He’s doing better than he was before — but the track of the line below is not one that leads Sanders to a 38-point win.

(What about Michigan?, some will ask. Michigan’s polls vastly underestimated the results of the Democratic primary in that state. As we explained, though, there were unique reasons that Michigan’s poll were so far off.)

Now bear in mind: Sanders would need that surge to tie Clinton. But he’s got to do much better than tie her in these two states. He needs to significantly eat into Clinton’s large lead — a lead that’s larger than President Obama’s ever was over her in 2008.

(Philip Bump / The Washington Post)

There are still a lot of states after New York for Sanders to make progress. Many of the delegates remaining though — more than half — are tied up in three large states: Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. As we noted earlier this month, Clinton is leading in the most recent polling in those three states, too. But if Sanders closes the gap in those states and ties Clinton — splitting the delegates evenly — he’d need to win 71 percent of the rest of the delegates in the other states just to close the gap in pledged delegates.

Pledged delegates. That also leaves Sanders trailing by 430 superdelegates. Those people can change their minds, of course, which is an argument Sanders’s camp has made repeatedly. Those superdelegates would need to overlook the fact that Clinton will almost certainly still have a large popular vote margin, too. (She has 45 percent more votes than does Sanders at this point.)

This is Sanders’s problem. This has been Sanders’s problem. It is a problem that will not be solved without something dramatic happening to Sanders’s opponent.

But, who knows. Politics is weird.