WASHINGTON (NBC News) — Bernie Sanders is the winner of the Democratic primary in Indiana, NBC News projects.
But the outcome is all but certain not to impact Hillary Clinton’s march to the Democratic nomination. Because Indiana Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, the close race between the two candidates ensures that Sanders will capture only a small net delegate gain, leaving him still well behind Clinton in the race for support.
The win for Sanders will, however, refresh the Vermont senator’s argument that he must fight through the final Democratic primary contests in June and continue to spread his populist message. While he trails badly in the delegate race, Sanders has suggested that superdelegates — party elders not bound to any candidate at the Democratic convention — should switch their allegiance to back him.
But Clinton currently leads Sanders on several measures — raw vote, pledged delegates and the overall delegate count including superdelegates — and is on a nearly unstoppable track to capture the Democratic nomination by next month.
In a rally in Kentucky on Tuesday night, Sanders continued to outline differences between himself and Clinton, criticizing her for her stances on campaign finance and the war in Iraq.
Clinton did not campaign heavily in Indiana and spent no money on television ads in the state. She did not appear on the campaign trail Tuesday night, choosing instead to watch election returns from her home in New York.
Asked about her chances in Indiana earlier Tuesday, Clinton told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that her campaign “ran hard” in Indiana but quickly added “I’m really focused on moving into the general election.”