There has been some controversy over when a candidate can claim to have won the nomination. Is it when they pass the number of necessary delegates (a combination of pledged delegates and declared supperdelegate support)? Do we have to wait for the convention for the nomination to be officially voted on? Can a candidate claim the nomination if they win an outright majority of delegates through pledged delegates alone?
We’ve heard a lot of differing opinions, but I think what Bernie has to say on the subject is crucial.
In 2008, there was a heated nomination battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Because the race was so close, neither candidate could declare victory with a majority of all delegates through pledged delegates alone. Barack Obama won the nomination with a majority of pledged delegates and enough superdelegate support to put him over the top.
What did Senator Sanders have to say about the process back then? Given his current statements and his much-vaunted consistency, one would assume that he would say that, since the superdelegates do not vote until the convention, the convention would be contested and no one could claim the nomination.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the convention. On June 5th, two days after the voting was concluded and before Hillary had dropped out of the race, Sanders had something to say about the nomination
Sanders said he held off supporting either of the Democrats because he has made it a custom not to support any Democrat for the presidential nomination until the party had chosen its nominee.
So, at least in 2008, Bernie Sanders believed that the party has chosen its nominee before the convention even if they do not have an outright majority through pledged delegates alone. On Tuesday night, Hillary will be declared to be the presumptive nominee because she will both cross the threshold for a majority of pledged delegates and a majority of all delegates including the declared support from superdelegates. It would not be entirely inconsistent of Sanders to wait until the final contest in DC to be concluded, but when “the party has chosen its nominee” he should follow the example of Bernie in 2008 and support that candidate.