Bernie Sanders conceded at an MSNBC town hall on Monday that he faces narrow odds in convincing super delegates to switch their allegiances from the Democratic presidential front-runner, and instead hand him the nomination.
“At the end of the process, frankly, if we are behind in the pledged delegates, I think it’s very hard for us to win,” Sanders said to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in Philadelphia.
Sanders reiterated that his campaign plans to remain in the race through the California primary on June 7. In the face of a narrow path toward winning the Democratic nomination outright, Sanders said he was holding out for superdelegates to reconsider their support of party front-runner, Hillary Clinton.
“Hundreds of hundreds of superdelegates, parts of the Democratic establishment, voted for Hillary Clinton, or chose to come on board her campaign, before I even announced my candidacy,” Sanders said. “Those people have the right to rethink the decision that they made.”
The Vermont senator appeared optimistic of his standing heading into Tuesday’s primary races, centered around the Northeast, if turnout was high among the working class and young people. But his pathway to the Democratic convention seems to narrow by the day.
The largest delegate haul on Tuesday comes out of Pennsylvania, where 189 delegates are up for grabs. There, Sanders is behind by 15 points among likely Democratic voters, 55 percent to 40 percent, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal Marist poll. Four other states have primaries on Tuesday: Sanders trails significantly in Maryland, while races are expected to be more contested in Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island
The landscape gives Sanders few opportunities to chip away at Clinton’s overall lead. The former secretary of state is ahead by a total of 695 pledged and super delegates. NBC News predicts that Sanders would need to win 71 percent of remaining delegates in order to meet the magic 2,383 delegate threshold. Clinton would need just 29 percent.
Speaking at a town hall forum filled with prospective Pennsylvania voters, many undecided Democrats, Sanders on Monday stressed that many national polls found him beating Republican presidential candidates in head-to-head hypothetical races. He has amassed a devout following, anchored on a populist message against economic insecurity that has wooed mostly whites and young people.
When asked if he were to galvanize the movement to participate in the general election, regardless of whether he was the Democratic nominee, Sanders said the onus was on Clinton to win over his supporters.
“I think that most Democrats out there, more than anything, correctly so, want to make sure that some right wing Republican doesn’t become president of the United States,” Sanders said.