Bernie Sanders has vowed for months to take the Democratic primary fight all the way to the convention, regardless of the results from the final states.
Whether he'll actually follow through on that pledge has been the source of nearly endless speculation. Sanders did not concede the nomination after suffering a string of defeats last night — Hillary Clinton declared victory after winning New Jersey — and a profile from Politico suggested he's personally determined to contest the inevitable until the bitter end.
What could help change his mind? On Wednesday, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported that two key Sanders allies — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva — are now publicly recognizing that Sanders "would have to accept the inevitability" of Clinton's victory now that all paths to the nomination have been sealed off.
This is from Sargent's piece, which is worth reading in full:
"Once a candidate has won a majority of the pledged delegates and a majority of the popular vote, which Secretary Clinton has now done, we have our nominee," Merkley, who is Sanders’ sole supporter in the Senate, told me. "This is the moment when we need to start bringing parts of the party together so they can go into the convention with locked arms and go out of the convention unified into the general election." …
"Bernie is going to deal with this much more rapidly than you think," said Grijalva, who is also a super-delegate. "At some point, when we’re trying to flip 400 super-delegates, and it’s not gaining traction, I think you have to come to the conclusion that it’s not going to happen. You just move into a different direction. And that different direction is that we begin to try to integrate the party."
This mirrors the scenario recently outlined by Vox's Matt Yglesias — that some die-hards in Sanders's world might feel some desire to stick it out, but that he'll soon face prominent defections that force him to recognize the reality of his loss.
"Once it's clear that Sanders has lost the nomination, Sanders's elite Democratic supporters will rally behind Clinton, the Democratic nominee," Yglesias wrote. "When there are no votes left to win and he begins bleeding support, Sanders will come around and bring things to an end."
Of course, the biggest reason for Sanders to exit the race is because voters in several huge states, including California, rejected his candidacy by wide margins on Tuesday night. But hearing it from those who have supported his campaign won't hurt, either.