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Bernie Sanders Wins Caucuses In Washington, Alaska, Hawaii

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally on March 23 in Los Angeles.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally on March 23 in Los Angeles.

Bernie Sanders has not only taken home all three states where voters caucused on Saturday, he's also nabbed the biggest prize of the weekend, according to The Associated Press. The news service is projecting the Vermont senator to win the Democratic caucuses in Washington state, where 101 pledged delegates are up for grabs.

And that's not the only win for Sanders: The AP is also projecting the senator to win Alaska, where 16 pledged delegates are at stake, and Hawaii, with 25 delegates.

"We knew things were going to improve as we headed west," Sanders declared during a rally in Madison, Wis., pointing to recent wins in Idaho and Utah as evidence. "We are making significant inroads in Secretary Clinton's lead — and with your support here, we have a path toward victory."

The three wins come as little surprise to many observers, despite relatively little early polling in both states. Sanders has performed well so far in caucuses — where, as our Politics team puts it, "you don't vote with your fingers; you vote with your feet." Compared to primary elections, where voters just fill out a ballot, the caucus process rewards candidates with passionate supporters.

NPR's Tamara Keith explains: "Sanders, with his enthusiastic young supporters, has had an advantage in caucus states," she tells our Newscast team. "And in Hawaii he got a high-profile endorsement from Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard."

And, John Ryan from member station KUOW in Seattle notes, Sanders has been beating Hillary Clinton in terms of fundraising in all three states.

But Clinton's lead means that even the big wins Sanders has been raking in this weekend might not change the delegate math much. Heading into the day, he needed to win about 58 percent of all the remaining pledged delegates to clinch the nomination.

And the Democratic primary awards delegates proportionally, with no winner-take-all states, which makes that margin of victory tough to achieve.

Follow live coverage at elections.npr.org, and find a full calendar of upcoming primaries and caucuses here.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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