The story in the newspapers is that Sanders’ West Virginia victory means that the Democratic race will extend until July. This was always going to be true, as the Sanders camp has said since New York, regardless of the outcome in West Virginia.
The demographics in May 17 races suggest big wins for Sanders in Kentucky (similar to WV) and Oregon (similar to Washington, where he won in a landslide). Those wins should net him nearly 45 delegates, and he may come close to the 70+ percent of the delegates that he needs to stay on pace to tie.
Wins will help the public narrative on Sanders’ viability, as well as his chances on June 7 primaries in California, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Unfortunately for Sanders, polling in California and New Jersey shows Clinton with sizable leads there, and we project her heading into the convention with a 350-delegate lead and needing around 180 superdelegates to clinch the nomination.
None of this, of course, speaks to core Sanders supporters. Running a projection in which Sanders wins 100 percent of all votes in states where there are no state-level polls (i.e. all but New Jersey and California), we still show her heading into the convention with a 180-delegate lead.
Sanders will not be mathematically eliminated until June 8, and so does retain a chance of taking more delegates than Clinton into the convention. To do so, he needs to perform better than he did in Indiana and West Virginia, and will need Oregon-sized wins throughout. That would represent a nearly 50-point swing in California from current polling, and a 60-point swing in New Jersey. Winning 60% of the vote in those states and 70% in the remaining still leaves him 70-delegates short.
Bottom line: It’s not overly dismissive to say that Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, but the news this week and next will suggest a closer race.