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Sanders wins in Washington and Alaska

  • Published at 03:03 am March 27th, 2016

Bernie Sanders has won two more US states in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, as he tries to close the gap on Hillary Clinton.

Senator Sanders took the biggest prize of the day, Washington state, and Alaska. Hawaii also went to the polls.

Sanders was projected to have won 76% of the vote in Washington against 24% for Mrs Clinton.

And US TV networks gave him nearly 79% of the vote in Alaska, against 21% for Mrs Clinton.

Results are yet to emerge from Hawaii.

Washington was the most significant of the three states voting on Saturday, with 101 delegates up for grabs. There were 16 delegates on offer in Alaska and 25 in Hawaii.

In spite of his victories, Sanders faces a struggle to overhaul Mrs Clinton's overall lead. Going into Saturday's votes, Mrs Clinton led Sanders by 1,223 delegates to 920.

When superdelegates - party officials who can support either candidates - who have so far declared their allegiance are included, Mrs Clinton is ahead by 1,692 to 949.

It takes 2,383 delegates to win.

Sanders has spent the week on the west coast, rallying support among liberals and the left-wing.

Late on Friday in Seattle's Safeco baseball stadium, he repeated key elements of his policy platform, urging economic equality and universal health care.

He said: "Real change historically always takes place from the bottom on up when millions of people come together. We need a political revolution!"

Sanders is trying to build on overwhelming victories in last Tuesday's caucuses in Idaho and Utah.

However, he suffered defeat in Arizona, and although his delegate haul from the three states was 20 higher than Mrs Clinton, he has failed to make major inroads into her lead.

Mrs Clinton has also been campaigning in Washington state. She told supporters in Everett: "We are on the path to the nomination, and I want Washington to be part of how we get there."

She also focused on this week's deadly attacks in Brussels, condemning Republican rivals Donald Trump and Ted Cruz for their "reckless" foreign policies.

Opinion polls are scarce and tricky in caucus elections - a series of meetings in which voters give their support for candidates with an open show of hands.

However, Sanders has used his appeal with grassroots activists to benefit from the voting system in the past. He has done particularly well among young voters.

Whatever happens on Saturday, the battle will be won and lost in far bigger states still to come. In RealClearPolitics poll averages, Mrs Clinton has the lead over Sanders by nine percentage points in California, 34 points in New York and 28 in Pennsylvania.

Calculations suggest Sanders may need to win two-thirds of the remaining delegates - in primaries, caucuses and among so-far uncommitted super-delegates - the unelected officials who can vote for their candidate of choice at the party's election convention.

The Democratic totals include the delegates won per state, as well as so-called "unpledged" or "super delegates". Hillary Clinton has a huge lead among the party leaders and elected officials who each get a vote at the convention.

AP conducts surveys of these super delegates, and adds them to a candidate's totals if they indicate their support. But super delegates can - and do - change their minds during the course of the campaign, so the figures may shift as the race unfolds.

The Republican race has been dominated lately by feuding between Cruz and Trump.

Cruz told reporters that Trump was behind a story in the National Enquirer that alleged Cruz had had extramarital affairs.

Cruz called the story "garbage, complete and utter lies".

Trump has threatened on Twitter to "spill the beans" on Cruz's wife, Heidi, and has posted an unflattering photo of her.

Cruz called Trump "classless" and a "coward".

Trump leads Cruz by 739 delegates to 465, with a total of 1,237 needed to win the Republican nomination, AP reports.