Call it the “Weekend for Bernie.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders is likely to have the single best day of his entire campaign on Saturday, when Democrats in three western states meet for caucuses that heavily favor the Vermont independent.
Voters in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii will dole out a total of 142 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. And while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her top surrogates have been campaigning hard in delegate-rich Washington, which will send 101 delegates to Philadelphia, Sanders is likely to narrow Clinton’s pledged-delegate advantage.
Sanders has done particularly well in caucus states so far this year. Of the eleven states he has won, seven — Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Maine, Idaho and Utah — have held caucuses rather than primaries. All three states voting this weekend will hold caucuses.
Eight years ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign used its advantage in on-the-ground organizing to run up a significant — and ultimately determinative — delegate lead over Clinton in caucus states, including in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington. Obama won Alaska and Hawaii by three-to-one margins over Clinton; in Washington, he took two-thirds of the vote.
Combined, Obama won 75 delegates out of those three states, compared with just 36 allocated to Clinton.
Results are likely to come first in Washington, where Democrats meet to caucus at 10 a.m. Pacific time, 1 p.m. on the East Coast. Alaska Democrats caucus at 10 a.m. Alaska Daylight Time, or 2 p.m. Eastern. Hawaii Democrats will hold their preference poll at 1 p.m. local time, or 7 p.m. Eastern.
After Saturday’s voting, both parties get something of a respite. Wisconsin’s primary is next up on the calendar, on April 5. Wyoming and New York hold contests on April 9 and April 19. The next major delegate-rich date comes April 26, when five Eastern Seaboard states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania — allocate a total of 384 Democratic and 118 Republican delegates.