Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential primary by 387 pledged delegates and 3.7 million votes.
Despite this large margin, some of Bernie Sanders’s most strident supporters have attributed Clinton’s lead to foul play, alleging that the Democratic Party’s nominating rules cost Sanders the nomination and the Clinton campaign deliberately suppressed pro-Bernie votes. These claims, which have circulated widely online, are false. My colleague Joshua Holland, who supports Sanders, has extensively debunked many of these conspiracy theories, but I want to add more detail now that the primary is over. (I’ve been neutral throughout the race and do not endorse candidates.)
First off, the party’s rules were not the deciding factor. Sanders has rejected the idea that the nomination was “rigged” but has repeatedly criticized things like superdelegates and closed primaries, in which Independent and unaffiliated voters can’t participate. Here’s what he told Face the Nation in late May:
What has upset me, and what I think is—I wouldn’t use the word rigged, because we knew what the rules were—but what is really dumb is that you have closed primaries, like in New York state, where three million people who are Democrats or Republicans could not participate, where you have situation where over 400 superdelegates came on board Clinton’s campaign before anybody else was in the race, eight months before the first vote was cast.
That’s not rigged. I think it’s just a dumb process, which has certainly disadvantaged our campaign.
Clinton did do better than Sanders in closed primaries, winning 17 to his 9, but she also won more open primaries than he did, 13 to 10. Anti-democratic caucuses, where Sanders did very well, hurt Clinton far more than closed primaries hurt Sanders, writes Nate Cohn of The New York Times: