Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign currently has no active Facebook ads, after another disappointing finish in a series of primary contests.
Sanders was thumped in the latest round of primaries, losing Florida, Illinois and Arizona last night.
A pause in digital advertising spend on Facebook has been a good indicator that candidates are dropping out of the 2020 race before.
Pete Buttigieg and Michael Bloomberg made their Facebook ads inactive hours before they suspended their campaigns.
Sanders and his team are reassessing their path forward.
He and his wife Jane are back in Vermont where they are having conversations with supporters.
“The next primary contest is at least three weeks away. Senator Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign,” Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, said in a statement. “In the immediate term, however, he is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable.”
The Sanders campaign also sent out an email to supporters with a similarly gloomy tone.
“No sugarcoating it, last night did not go the way we wanted,” Shakir wrote in that email. “And while our campaign has won the battle of ideas, we are losing the battle over electability to Joe Biden.”
The email did not include a usual link to make a donation to the campaign.
Instead it linked to Sanders’ response on how the federal government should be responding to the coronavirus pandemic, a signal that the campaign is at least slightly inching away from a relentless campaign mode.
There were three contests on Tuesday night and Biden beat Sanders in all of them.
More ominous for Sanders, Biden beat him by double digits in all three states.
Biden won decisively by about 14 points in Illinois.
In 2016 Sanders narrowly lost to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton there by less than three percentage points.
In Florida Biden beat Sanders by almost 40 percentage points.
In Arizona, Sanders lost to Biden by about the same margin he lost to Clinton in 2016.
The next set of contests are in states that were more favorable to Sanders in 2016 –Hawaii and Alaska, in particular.
But the larger problem for the Vermont senator is the delegate math.
As of Wednesday Biden led Sanders by 1,153 pledged delegates to 874.
Even before Tuesday Sanders would have to have won the lion’s share of delegates in coming contests.
The Biden campaign has been hesitant to declare victory outright but has argued publicly and behind the scenes that Biden’s delegate advantage is unassailable.
In a conference call with donors ahead of the Tuesday’s primary results, Greg Schultz, a top adviser for the campaign, said the Biden team felt they had a “very clear delegate trajectory that would require Sanders to so overwhelmingly out-perform” in the next few primary contests.
On Wednesday morning, Unite the Country, a Super Pac supporting Biden, released a memo going even further.
“Last night’s overwhelming victories in Arizona, Illinois and Florida are likely to add at least 150 delegates to Joe Biden’s already commanding delegate lead. Even without Ohio voting, Joe Biden effectively ended the race last night,” the memo said.
“He will be the Democratic nominee, and for Unite the Country, the focus now turns to November. The turnout generated by the vice-president continues to surprise everyone. Despite the virus, total turnout in Arizona and Florida exceeded 2016 numbers, and just like in previous states this primary season, there was particularly robust turnout in the types of suburban communities where we need to show strength this fall.”