Stephen Ohlemacher and Bill Barrow at Associated Press
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has agreed to let former primary rival Bernie Sanders keep hundreds of delegates he would otherwise forfeit by dropping out of the presidential race in a deal designed to avoid the bitter feelings that marred the party in 2016 and helped lead to Hillary Clinton's defeat.
Under party rules, Sanders should lose about a third of the delegates he’s won in primaries and caucuses as the process moves ahead and states select the people who will attend the Democratic National Convention. The rules say those delegates should be Biden supporters, as he is the only candidate still actively seeking the party’s nomination.Why is Biden so eager to make concessions? Rebecca Morin at USA Today:
However, in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, the Biden campaign says it will work with Sanders and state parties to fill those positions with Sanders supporters. The joint memo from the Biden and Sanders campaigns was being sent to state Democratic parties on Thursday.
“We must defeat Donald Trump this fall, and we believe that this agreement will help bring the party together to get Trump out of the White House and not only rebuild America, but transform it,” the two campaigns said in a joint statement.
In some ways, the delegate count is a moot point. While Biden has yet to formally win the 1,991 delegates needed to claim the Democratic nomination on the first ballot at the convention, he is the Democrats' presumptive nominee. All of his rivals — including Sanders — have endorsed him after ending their own campaigns.
The deal, however, is a major step in the two camps avoiding the acrimony between the Democratic establishment and progressive insurgents that marked Sanders' 2016 primary fight with Clinton, the eventual nominee. In that campaign, Clinton and Sanders battled for delegates until the end of the primary calendar and then jousted over the party platform and rules well into the summer.
Bernie Sanders may have endorsed Joe Biden, but almost a quarter of the Vermont senator’s supporters aren’t jumping on board just yet, according to a new poll.
Nearly 1 in 4 Sanders supporters (22%) said they would vote for a third party candidate, vote for President Donald Trump, not vote in November or were undecided about who to vote for, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll. When broken down, 2% said they would vote for Trump, 8% said they would vote for a third party candidate, 2% said they would skip voting and 8% are still undecided.
However, the vast majority of Sanders supporters (77%) said they will vote for Biden in the general election in November.