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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) delivers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) delivers a campaign update at the Hotel Vermont on Tuesday in Burlington, Vermont. Credit: Getty Images/Scott Eisen

A factor that hurt Bernie Sanders during Tuesday night’s elections: the shift away from time-consuming caucuses, which favor committed activists, toward higher-turnout primaries. 

New York State Democratic Party chair and Democratic National Committee at-large member Jay Jacobs was one of the people who had urged the shift. Jacobs told The Point on Wednesday that he focused on the change since 2008, when Barack Obama was winning low-turnout caucus states over Hillary Clinton and nabbing delegates that represented fewer actual voters. 

When Sanders surrogates advocated that the DNC not allow superdelegates to vote on a first ballot at the national convention, Jacobs said he supported tying that to new rules that encouraged states to shift from caucuses to more primary-like contests. He saw it as a good deal given the slim chances that superdelegates would actually overturn the voters’ will. 

“We gave away snow in the winter but we really got a much more democratic process," he said, adding that he felt the shift would benefit “a moderate over a far-left candidate.” 

The new voting systems in places like Washington state and Idaho may have contributed to a shift in Sanders’ fortunes. He had won big in both places during the 2016 primary but fell behind in Idaho and was neck-and-neck with Biden in Washington this time around. 

Those setbacks were part of the 2016 runner-up falling further behind in the delegate count on Tuesday. 

Still, Sanders on Wednesday vowed to fight on.

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