The decision by the Rhode Island leadership to cut their polling places might have come about because this poll has Sanders ahead 60/40. Or that the last poll I could find on RealClearPolitics.com has Clinton with only a 9 point lead in Rhode Island. Nationally, Sanders and Clinton are less than 2 points apart in the RCP national average of polls. When Sanders first started he was below 10%. Check out how things have changed:
Sanders has closed a more than 50 point lead to less than 2 points in the national polls. I'm sure that this is not welcome news to the Clinton team. Judging by the trends, Sanders will overtake Clinton in the national average of polls at RCP in a few weeks and hold that lead until the convention.
But the rubber meets the road at the polls. Clinton has a deep and wide political network willing to pull every lever to ensure that Clinton wins. Clinton won and won big in the southern states where she is familiar to everyone there. She's got national name recognition and has been counting on that familiarity. But as they say, familiarity breeds contempt.
We are now starting to see that contempt from the Clinton campaign. Common Dreams has an article that nails that contempt from the Clinton campaign rather concisely:
After the New York primary, an unnamed senior Clinton aide told POLITICO’s Glenn Thrush, “We kicked his ass tonight,” and, “I hope this convinces Bernie to tone it down. If not, fuck him.” David Axelrod, who worked as a chief strategist for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, tweeted, “Minutes after Hillary Clinton talks unity, her spokeswoman calls Senator Sanders’ campaign ‘destructive.’ I honestly don’t get it.” David Plouffe, an Obama campaign strategist who endorsed Clinton, accused the Sanders campaign of “fraud” because they sent out fundraising email saying there still was a path to the nomination. Brad Woodhouse, president of the Clinton super PAC, Correct the Record, characterized Sanders as a “spoiler,” even though he has every right to fight for the nomination at the convention as Clinton does.The Clinton camp has been relentlessly telling the rest of us that Sanders has no path to the nomination. They are doing anything and everything to shutdown the Sanders campaign. They know that without him, they can devote more of their resources to defending their campaign from the GOP. They say that the Sanders campaign is destructive, a spoiler.
But if you look at the pledged delegate counts, 1428 to 1151, a lead of only 277, Sanders is still a serious contender. Seth Abramson at The Huffington Post says that a contested nomination at the Democratic Convention in July is a near certainty. With math and logic, Abramson shows that Sanders is almost certain to prevent Clinton from reaching the 2383 pledged delegates needed to win the nomination before the convention. Remember, the Clinton camp is determined to disqualify Sanders and thinks that they can unite the Democrats later. Maybe so, but they're likely to face a lot of independent voters later.
Even if Clinton wins, astute observers will see that the rules that helped Clinton win will also help the GOP win in November. The nation is stacked with conservative legislatures, governors and gerrymandered districts. The head to head poll averages at RCP show Sanders winning with wider margins than Clinton against Trump and Cruz. They also show her losing against John Kasich where Sanders wins by a close margin, within the margin of error. Judging by the polling, Kasich is the dark horse of the GOP and could possibly turn out as the nominee after the convention.
The GOP leadership have admitted as much that they would rather face Clinton than Sanders. So they would be happy to help Clinton win in places like Arizona, New York and perhaps Rhode Island, as they did in the southern states. Where the GOP dominates, the election laws and the polling place cuts are all designed to help conservatives, no matter what party they come from. Sanders has distinguished himself from Clinton as more liberal and that why he's closed the gap. He has no reason to stop now and by all accounts, there no sign that he will.