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Sanders turns to Pennsylvania as uphill fight becomes more so

Schulman reported from Brooklyn and Tokasz from State College, Pa.

New York is now in Bernie Sanders’ rearview mirror.

Even before the votes were counted Tuesday night, the 74-year-old youth movement candidate was holding a rally in Erie, Pa., then off to Penn State University, offering his stump speech of idealism and revolution to another set of young voters.

But New York won’t be easy for the Vermont senator to forget.

A victory in the Democratic presidential primary in New York, Sanders said during the campaign, would be his path to the White House.

Conversely, while the candidate didn’t say it, a loss is considered a likely route ultimately leading to the exit door.

Not that Sanders is ready to call it quits.

He didn’t talk much about the New York campaign during his Pennsylvania stops, but was predicting in Erie, Pa., on Tuesday that he would win next Tuesday’s primary in Pennsylvania.

“It looks like Penn State is ready for a political revolution,” Sanders told the crowd of some 6,600 students.

His supporters were disappointed by the loss to front-runner Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in New York, but not discouraged. Some of them said they are looking at a bigger picture they see Sanders representing – just in case he doesn’t make it to the White House.

At the Cherry Tree Bar in Brooklyn, a group of his supporters got together to watch the New York primary results.

“I’ve been bracing for this all day,” said Sanders supporter Daniel Latorri, 44, of Brooklyn.

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised,” he said. “New York has some of the wealthiest people in the nation, and superprivileged, who won’t vote against their own interests.

“I would have loved to have seen Bernie win, but what is happening is a huge shift in politics toward the left,” said Sanders supporter Daniel Krowp. “What’s incredible is that Bernie was polling in single digits not long ago and now pulled 40 percent of Democrats who are voting for a new type of politics based on political revolution and socialism, and against the billionaire class.”

“The whole system is broken; the system is rigged,” said Sanders supporter Patrick Ayres.

Whether or not Sanders wins, Ayres said, the political revolution continues.

The reality, however, is that Sanders’ failure to pull off a Michigan-style miracle in New York State may be his toughest loss yet.

And not just because it’s a bit of a snub from the state where Sanders was born and raised before becoming Vermont’s favorite adopted son.

With the New York primary behind him, the Brooklyn native now faces a string of New York-like states – Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island – with political and demographic features similar to the Empire State in next Tuesday’s primaries. This means that like New York State, most of these – including Pennsylvania and Maryland, with the most delegates at stake – are closed primaries, which means that only registered Democrats can vote in them.

Sanders tends to do better in primaries open to not only Democrats, but independents, as well.

But so far, polls have Clinton ahead in next Tuesday’s contests, too.

Beyond the trouble Sanders is having winning diverse states with closed primaries, Tuesday’s results could reinforce views that Sanders is more the head of a youth movement than a candidate attracting widespread support.

But there’s no question that he has galvanized a generation of youth voters.

It was evident at the New York State rallies he held in recent weeks, attracting tens of thousands of generally youthful supporters.

And it was evident at Tuesday’s Penn State rally in State College.

“I like what Bernie stands for, as far as changing the system and the populist movement he’s sparked,” said James Mallon, a Penn State freshman business major from Pittsburgh. “I really like the campaign finance reform and his kind of being outside the political system, and also being a very genuine person.”

Mallon isn’t sure, though, that Sanders can overtake Clinton between now and the final primaries June 7 and secure the nomination.

email: sschulman@buffnews.com and jtokasz@buffnews.com