Conventional wisdom supports the idea that Hillary Clinton will secure the Democratic nomination, despite Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (D-VT) recent surge in local and national polls. The Clinton campaign has remained steadfast in its narrative of experience and electability, often raising concerns highlighting Sanders’ atypical political platform and inability to deliver on his campaign promises.

While primary polls are seldom indicative of a candidate’s viability in a general election, one can argue the concerns raised by Clinton regarding Sanders’ electability is falling on deaf ears. Pound-for-pound, Sanders is winning the fundraising war, and his support continues to grow among diverse demographics, including African Americans and Latinos.

A decent showing by Sanders in Nevada and South Carolina will undoubtedly weaken Clinton’s electability argument, however, she will still hold a considerable advantage.

The Infamous Superdelegates

Clinton is currently winning the superdelegate battle by a large margin. 98% of superdelegates currently support Clinton - but what exactly are “superdelegates?” Simply put, superdelegates are elected officials and party leaders within the DNC who are afforded the autonomy to vote against the candidate who won the popular vote in their respective state. Former President Bill Clinton, for example, is a superdelegate, as is Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to name a few. Sanders is currently trailing Clinton 350 - 8 in the superdelegate count, despite a virtual tie in Iowa and a 22-point landslide victory for Sanders in New Hampshire.

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The superdelegate advantage has been coined, “Hillary’s firewall,” and is often cited as the wildcard that will inevitably quell Bernie’s momentum - but will it?

Bernie has managed to energize and mobilize a growing national base, and the fervor of his supporters is downright fanatical, similar to the fan base of say, the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees. Sanders’ rallies have eclipsed Clinton’s nationally, and his campaign has the finances to go the distance. If Sanders wins the popular vote, but is unable to secure the Democratic nomination due to a superdelegate technicality, it is safe to assume that his supporters would back a third-party candidacy.

Bernie’s Wildcard

While it is true, third-party candidates have been abysmal in previous presidential elections, and none were able to shake the stigma associated with being a third party candidate, Bernie has proven to be anything but conventional. Without the backing of the Democratic establishment or a major super PAC, Sanders is running a national campaign on par with the Clinton machine.

Let that sink in.

It is safe to assume that Sanders’ supporters would remain loyal in a general election, and Sanders’ message, opposed to Clinton’s, is more amenable to Trump supporters, which appears to be a significant slice of the electorate. Sanders has an opportunity to put together a broad coalition that can potentially rival both national parties. He can effectively attract constituency groups that cross party lines given his overarching themes of middle-class empowerment and income equality.

The majority of Americans identify as middle-class - regardless of race, income, and party affiliation - and Sanders is controlling the conversation among that demographic. Sanders is also controlling the conversation among voters under 30, and more importantly, he’s motivating this particular group to get out and vote. With that said, Sanders is uniquely poised to legitimately challenge the Democratic and Republican nominees in a general election. Keep in mind that Sanders would only need to win a third of the majority in a three-way national race to secure the presidency. Additionally, if Sanders were to choose a highly respected, popular Democrat with a penchant for results, namely Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), as his running mate his chances of winning a general election improve considerably.