Whither the Sanders insurgency?

Story highlights

  • The real question is: what is the long-term potential of this movement, now and going forward?
  • The Bernie Sanders campaign has already pulled the front-runner far to the left of her natural moorings.

(CNN)The 2016 electoral fate of the Bernie Sanders insurgency seems clear. Unless something miraculous happens tonight, the path to the nomination looks impossibly steep for the Vermont senator.

But that is not the final question to ask about any insurgency. After all, most rebellions against the establishment are ultimately defeated. The real question is: what is the long-term potential of this movement, now and going forward?
    The movement has already expanded the range of acceptable topics in an election -- from free college, to universal healthcare to democratic socialism. It has already pulled the front-runner far to the left of her natural moorings. And it has creating a massive network of donors and activists, many of whom are both young and passionate.
    On Tuesday night, we will get some indication about whether the Sanders insurgency can grow beyond its white, northern and millennial center of gravity. If it can't, its long-term ability to continue the revolution is in doubt.
    But if it can show any signs that it is improving its numbers with non-whites, southerners and mid-westerners -- then the revolution can prevail over time politically, even if it loses this year electorally.