To answer the question in the headline, I believe the answer is Yes, though it will be very, very difficult. There are obviously a ton of factors that will go into whether or not Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, but this diary will deal with a possible path through the primaries to get him to the convention with a win.
3 rules/guidelines for this one:
This diary is informed speculation and is based only on primaries, assuming nothing else 'happens' besides debates and expected events. I cannot predict the future any more than those who claim HRC is inevitable, or more than those that are just sure Bernie will win.
The path to his nomination will rely on momentum. Momentum is qualitative and not scientific.
This diary is not an endorsement of any Dem candidates. I'm not going to make any assumptions, assertions or conclusions because I 'like' anyone.
So, how COULD Bernie get to the nomination?
Iowa: Feb 1st, 2016.
Currently, Sanders is polling at 15% while Clinton is at 60% link. However, since my source is a poll collector and the most recent one ended on 5/4, I believe Sanders is more likely at 20-25% in Iowa now and can gain a lot more ground.
Sanders must win Iowa. Along with New Hampshire, Iowa represents the best chance historically for candidate like Bernie to come up with a win. The Clinton campaign knows this, and knows how far Clinton dropped after losing Iowa...which explains why they went right to Iowa after announcing and Clinton aides say they will be back often.
New Hampshire: Feb 9th, 2016
New Hampshire prides itself on bucking the trend and has a history of giving their primary to the underdog candidate. Even with a win in Iowa, Sanders will still be the underdog nationally to Clinton and New Hampshire, in my opinion, will stay true to form and Sanders will win. I think Sanders still wins New Hampshire if he loses Iowa, but it won't be by as big of a margin and it won't be enough.
South Carolina: Feb 20th, 2016
I don't believe Sanders wins South Carolina regardless of the results in Iowa and New Hampshire, though he'll do much better if he wins Iowa. There are too many demographic groups in SC that have been traditionally friendly to both Clintons, and Clinton was walloping Obama in SC until after he won Iowa.
Nevada: Tuesday, Feb 23rd, 2016
HRC technically won Nevada after losing 2 primaries and essentially tying a 3rd, though the delegate count went in favor of Obama (HRC won the popular vote). Very difficult to see HRC losing Nevada especially after a victory in SC, since she was popular enough there in 2008. Best Bernie can hope for is a split in Delegates so as to render HRC's popular vote 'victory' (she won the pop vote in Nevada) meaningless. (remember, she won the popular vote over the course of the ENTIRE primary as well).
So, that pulls us into Super Tuesday, March 1st; Bernie is hanging tough and building tons of momentum with victories in Iowa & New Hampshire, and decent showings in SC and NV.
States on this Tuesday include:
Alabama; Arkansas; Colorado caucuses; Georgia; Massachusetts; Minnesota caucuses; North Carolina; Oklahoma; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia
Man, this is going to be TOUGH on Bernie. How could it work?
Alabama: No chance..HRC hung tough against a surging Obama in this state in 2008.
Arkansas: Yeah, right.
Colorado: Bernie wins decisively; Colorado has had an indie streak and Sanders will really appeal to their liberal voters. If I was Bernie, I would head right from Nevada to Colorado.
Georgia: Demographics against Bernie again. HRC won the appalachia section (read: white) in 2008, but even if every county that went to HRC in 2008 went to Bernie, he'll lose decisively.
Massachusetts: Wrap it up for the Bern!
Minnesota: : Bernie needs this one and I think he can get it. I think Massachusetts can be won by him with maybe one big visit and his campaign doing the rest of the work, and he should try for Minnesota visits along with Colorado.
North Carolina & Virginia: Clinton. Too much history for Clinton and demos against Bernie, and McAuliffe sure as hell ain't gonna endorse Sanders with Clinton in the mix.
Oklahoma; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; All Bernie; demos work more in his favor and I would be surprised if Clinton even opens a legit campaign office in Vermont.
So, where are we?
Here what I think, assuming the above all happens:
It's a real neck-and-neck race. Hillary's camp starts to panic, momentum is against her given her past of blowing another front-runner (albeit weaker) status. HRC and Bernie split the rest of the March states, though HRC squeaks out Florida:
Tuesday, March 8: Mississippi; Ohio; Michigan
Tuesday, March 15: Florida; Illinois; Missouri
Tuesday, March 22: Arizona; Utah caucuses
Saturday, March 26: Washington; Hawaii
And then April comes.
Tuesday, April 5: Maryland; Washington, DC; Wisconsin
Tuesday, April 26: Connecticut; Delaware; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island
Bernie, with his momentum, proximity and no palatable demographic disadvantage, wins Wisconsin, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. HRC's victories in MD and DC are super-tight.
Tuesday, May 3: Indiana
Tuesday, May 10: Nebraska; West Virginia
Tuesday, May 17: Kentucky; Oregon
Bernie, with the momentum and nothing moving against him, wins them ALL.
After Oregon goes for Bernie along with the other 4 states in May, California turns on Clinton. HRC's camp, knowing California was a must-win and a great state typically for her, concedes by Memorial Day weekend and plans her next book.
Again, all of the above is speculation, and worse-than-likely to happen. I can't see where Bernie can lose one notable state that I have him winning above, or make any other misstep, and win. But if it all falls into place like I have above, he can win...and even BETTER, the states he wins are going to be ones in play and that he MUST win in the general...he'll have all the momentum.
Good luck, Bernie!