Just when it looked like the US primaries couldn’t throw up any more surprises, Hillary Clinton has been defeated overnight in West Virginia. Bernie Sanders took 51.4 per cent of the vote to Hillary’s 36 per cent – handing the Vermont senator an extra 16 delegates. The result from West Virginia probably won’t be enough to change the course of the race and it still looks as though Clinton will be the Democrats’ nominee. As frontrunner, she has some 2,239 delegates backing her compared to Sanders’ 1469. But what her defeat does do is act as an unwelcome delay in the Democrat party coming together. After all, Donald Trump has wasted no time in turning his fire on Clinton. Last week, having won in Indiana, he had this to say about her:
‘She should not be allowed to run in the election. She should suffer like other people have suffered who have done far less than she has and here she is running for president like nothing happened.’
He has also branded her ‘Crooked Hillary’ in the type of moniker which could easily stick and prove hugely damaging in voters’ minds in the long election campaign ahead. But where Trump has wasted no time in sticking it to Clinton, Sanders’ victory overnight means that Clinton will be pulling her punches whilst the Democrat race remains alive, however marginally. By winning West Virginia, Sanders also shows that in spite of Trump, there are still some within the Democratic party who are not willing to back Clinton.
All this is playing out as a poll out this morning shows that Trump is closing in on Clinton. The figures indicate that in the event of a Trump vs Clinton battle for the White House, the two candidates would be neck-and-neck in the three key states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those areas will prove crucial in deciding who becomes the next President. And perhaps more worryingly, in a head-to-head polling question which pitted Clinton and Sanders against Trump in Florida and Pennsylvania, Sanders significantly outperformed Clinton. Although it might be tempting to think there’s no way Trump will win the White House, while the Democrat party remain divided, the Donald’s chances of doing just that remain alive.