Bernie Sanders wins in Oregon, but he needed Kentucky, too

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Sanders has Strong Words for Democratic Party Leadership

Bernie Sanders mini-winning streak ended Tuesday night in Kentucky, a state analysts expected he could win.

The loss could take some wind out of supporters' sails at a critical time as they face increasing pressure to unify the Democratic Party behind likely nominee Hillary Clinton.

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But it was a mixed night for the candidates. Sanders pulled out a comfortable single-digit win in Oregon, where he is likely to walk away with a solid block of delegates.

The outcome will have negligible impact on either candidate's path to the nomination, thanks to Democrats' proportional delegate allocation system.

Instead, the most meaningful impact will likely be on the morale of Sanders supporters as he faces a virtually impossible path to winning the nomination.

Sanders' campaign still pledges to take their fight all the way the Democratic National Convention, and the chaos at the Nevada State Democratic Conventionthis weekend gave the party a taste of what could come.

The threats against the state Democratic Party chair and Sanders' defiant statement in response have led party officials to worry diehard Sanders supporters may not come back into the fold in November.

Demographically, Kentucky's 90 percent white electorate favored Sanders, and his back-to-back victories in neighboring Indiana and West Virginia this week seemed to presage another win.

But Kentucky's closed primary may have done Sanders in. He had yet to win a contest that allowed only registered Democrats to participate before Oregon, and owes most of his wins to independent voters.

Sanders: 'We are in until the last ballot is cast'

Meanwhile, Clinton's team saw an opportunity and took it.

The former secretary of state came off the bench in the primary to make a late play for the Kentucky. The front-runner, who had previously announced a laissez-faire attitude towards the remaining primary states, worked much harder than expected, putting in 13 events across the Bluegrass State.

Her campaign also outspent Sanders on TV advertising $178,000 to $107,000, according to data provided by NBC News partner SMG Delta.

It paid off. Clinton ended up squeaking out the narrowest of wins in the state - the kind which can be attributed to a bit more money spent on the airwaves, and a few extra events to get out the vote.

Sanders, meanwhile, had moved on to Puerto Rico, which votes June 5, and to California, the biggest prize of the year, which votes on June 7.

"We are going to continue to fight for every last vote until June 14, and then we are going to take our fight into the convention," Sanders told supporters while campaigning in Carson, California Tuesday night. "Don't tell Secretary Clinton, she might get nervous - I think we're going to win California."

Officials with the Sanders campaign had long staked their chances on the Golden State and its 475 delegates. But Sanders is heading to the state hobbled by weaker than expected finances.

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Bernie Sanders wins in Oregon, but he needed Kentucky, too
Supporters stand in the crowd cheering as they wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A man covered in face paint waits to see U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a campaign event in Vallejo, California, May 18, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters stand in the crowd cheering as they wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A supporter holds a sign as the crowd waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Women hold up signs and cheer as they wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak during a rally in Carson, California, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
UCLA graduate Miguel Rodriguez, 32, (R) and Joannie Small, 4, queue to listen to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak at a campaign rally at Casa del Mexicano in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 4, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A Bernie Sanders supporter texts before the U S. Democratic presidential candidate's campaign rally at Colton Hall in Monterey, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Fiala
Bernie Sanders supporter Drew Rainer dances prior to the U S. Democratic presidential candidate's campaign rally at Colton Hall in Monterey, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Michael Fiala
An attendee reacts as Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders prepares to enter Kaiser Permanente Arena during a campaign rally in Santa Cruz, California May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
An attendee holds a sign in support of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A woman holds a sign in support of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a campaign rally in Santa Cruz, California, U.S., May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters listen as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Maria, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders greets supporters after a campaign rally in Santa Maria, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders looks as supporters wish him and his wife a happy wedding anniversary at a campaign rally in Santa Barbara, California, U.S. May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Tyler Morris holds up look-a-like puppet of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is held up during campaign event in San Pedro, California, U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian
A supporter holds a poster of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign event in San Pedro, California , U.S. May 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Supporter Tina Boyd holds signs inside Johnie's Coffee Shop, which has been closed since 2000, during a one night only re-opening for a rally in favor of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Los Angeles, U.S., May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cheer at a campaign event in Ventura, California, U.S. May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
Charles Parker of Desert Hot Springs shows off his large replica U S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders head while waiting in line to hear the senator speak at a campaign rally in Cathedral City, California, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo
Bradley Giles of Cathedral City waits to enter to hear U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak at a campaign rally in Cathedral City, California, U.S., May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo
Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders arrives to speak at a rally in Anaheim, California, United States, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters wait in line to attend a morning rally for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Anaheim, California, U.S., May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters listen to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speak in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters hold signs after U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' motorcade passed by in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporter Maria Antonio waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporter Mette Peluce, 11, waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporter Koelen Andrews, 34, waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Supporters wait for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A supporter waits for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak in East Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
People cheer at a campaign rally for U S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Irvine, California, U.S. May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo
Young female supports cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders steps up to the podium during a rally in Vista, California, United States May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks during a rally in Vista, California, United States, May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Joshua Zepeda of Escondido, takes off his shirt as he attends a rally for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Vista, California, United States, May 22, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A supporter of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wears a wig in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
From left, Myrna Leon, her daughter Bella Leon and her mother Frances Hernandez cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Supporters cheer for U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Stockton, California, United States, May 10, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Supporters cheer and hold up banners before the arrival of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a campaign rally in Sacramento, California United States May 9, 2016. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Brydon Sullivan, 8, wearing a Bernie Sanders costume, waits for the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sanders to arrive at a campaign rally in Sacramento, California United States May 9, 2016. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
Supporters cheer as U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S., May 8, 2016. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses the crowd during a campaign rally at Heritage Hall in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. May 4, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders cheer during his five state primary night rally in Huntington, West Virginia, U.S., April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Marcus Constantino
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - MAY 9: Bernie Sanders supporters cheer during a rally with the Democratic presidential hopeful at Boardwalk Hall on May 9, 2016 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Sanders is campaigning in New Jersey ahead of the state's primary on June 7. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - MAY 5: Bernie Sanders supporters holding a 'We Love Bernie March' a day before the state Democratic Party Convention march down Congress St. in Portland Thursday, May 5, 2016. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 3: Campaign supporters show their support for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks to them during a campaign rally at the Big Four Lawn park May 3, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Sanders is preparing for Kentucky's May 17th primary. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 3: Campaign supporters show their support for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as he speaks to them during a campaign rally at the Big Four Lawn park May 3, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. Sanders is preparing for Kentucky's May 17th primary. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - MAY 01: People cheer as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at the Century Center on May 1, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Sanders continues to campaign leading up to the state of Indiana's primary day on Tuesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 29: People listen as Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a rally at the Indiana state Capitol on April 29, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sanders addressed the rally of mostly union workers and their supporters protesting the Carrier Corp. plans to cut 1,400 manufacturing jobs in Indianapolis and move 2,100 jobs to Mexico. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Sanders' one-for-12 record in closed primaries also doesn't bode well for his chances in New Jersey and New Mexico, both of which hold closed primaries on the same day as California.

Oregon was also a closed primary, but it seemed to favor Sanders in other ways, thanks to its progressive leanings and white complexion. Sanders has won both of Oregon's border states that already voted —Washington and Idaho — and by wide margins.

But Oregon has a unique election system, where all votes are cast by mail. Clinton has typically done well among voters who cast a ballot by mail, thanks to superior organization.

The Democratic front-runner largely ceded the state to Sanders, who spent $123,000 on TV ads to Clinton's zero.

Still, Tuesday elections results will have little impact on the delegate count. Clinton headed into the night 282 pledged delegates ahead of Sanders. She'll likely leave with a lead still in the high 200s.

Because Democrats allocate delegates proportionally, Sanders needs to not only win, but win by very large margins to close the gap with Clinton. He needs two out of every three remaining delegates to come out with the most pledged delegates, not to mention his large deficit among superdelegates.

Some diehard Sanders supporters feel they've been robbed by a rigged process, and are eager to fight the Democratic Party, even if means disrupting the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this summer.

The question is whether that kind of intense energy can be sustained through late July, more than a month after the primary contests have ended. Losses in states like Kentucky won't help.

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