But on Tuesday, he outperformed the polls and pulled off a surprise victory in Indiana. With 93 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Sanders was leading former secretary of state Hillary Clinton 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent.
“The Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They’re wrong,” Sanders said Tuesday night. “Maybe it’s over for the insiders and the party establishment, but the voters in Indiana had a different idea. The campaign wasn’t over for them.”
Sanders’ victory came as New York businessman Donald Trump all but locked up the Republican nomination. After Trump walked away with Indiana, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) suspended his campaign, leaving only Ohio Gov. John Kasich to challenge the front-runner.
Earlier Tuesday, Clinton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that she was “really focused on moving into the general election.” But in his post-primary remarks, Sanders made clear he would not let her, vowing once again to fight on through the June 7 California contest.
“We are in this campaign to win and we’re going to fight until the last vote is cast,” he said. “There is nothing I would like more than to take on and defeat Donald Trump, someone who must never become president of this country.”
Even after Tuesday’s victory, Sanders appeared little closer to wresting the nomination from Clinton. Heading into the night, she was leading him 1,645 to 1,318 among pledged delegates and 520 to 39 among superdelegates.
Given that Democrats award their delegates on a proportional basis, Sanders was likely to net just a handful in Indiana. According to FiveThirtyEight, he would need to win 65 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to overtake Clinton.
Nevertheless, Sanders’ win was likely to reinvigorate dispirited supporters and energize the campaign as it prepares for contests next week in West Virginia and the week after in Kentucky and Oregon.