Ties in politics are a rare thing, but Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton came close as they split primaries — and delegates — in Oregon and Kentucky on Tuesday.
A win in Kentucky likely came as a relief to Clinton. Not only was she likely to struggle after some comments about closing coal mines raised eyebrows, but the former secretary of state has suffered a string of defeats in recent weeks.
While Clinton has the party’s nomination all but locked up — she still leads the Vermont senator by hundreds of delegates — her campaign wants to avoid looking weak before she enters the national race against presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump.
She is also worried about Sanders’ promise to stick around until the July convention. Clinton and her supporters worry that Sanders could damage her chances by staying put.
The Vermont senator’s economic hits on Clinton could benefit Trump, as he seeks to appeal to independent voters. In addition, Clinton cannot start wooing Sanders supporters until he is out of the way and she must continue campaigning in primary states, rather than general election battlegrounds.
For Sanders’ part, a win in Oregon was another — albeit expected — feather in his cap. Sanders was a multi-point favorite in the state, one of the most left-wing in the nation.
Having won a string of states, Sanders is hoping to amass a healthy number of delegates before the party’s Philadelphia convention.
While he would need to win about two-thirds of the remaining delegates just to tie Clinton and force a contested convention, he is hoping a large show of support will influence the Democrats’ platform and message going forward.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.