Clinton’s Path to the Nomination

In yesterday’s New York primary, Hillary Clinton won a definitive victory. The polling average prior to the vote had her winning by 12 points. The final results showed her winning by 16. In the all-important delegate math, she won 57% and now leads Sanders by 277 in pledged delegates. As Greg Dworkin notes:

What happened last night was a big Hillary win, effectively ending the race. It’ll be official in June, but Bernie won’t be the nominee.

Hillary won every borough in NYC, including Brooklyn, as well as Westchester, Rockland and Suffolk. That’s where the D votes are, much more than upstate. She’s going to capture another 30 delegates or so.

That’s not spiking the football. That’s reading the road map.

Recognizing that, Mark Murray highlighted this in Clinton’s speech last night.

Contrary to much of the media narrative (and what I was worrying about yesterday), at least in New York, the Democratic Party is pretty united (especially compared to the Republicans).

So where do things go from here? Next Tuesday brings 5 primaries in Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In all of those states with polling averages, Clinton leads by over 10 points and they’re all closed primaries (except RI, which is semi-closed), so polling is likely to be more accurate. It is shaping up to be another very good night for Hillary.

After that there are a string of smaller state primaries in which Sanders might do well – but won’t afford him the ability to tackle Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates. In the mix are Oregon and Indiana – states where he might do well, especially in the open primary in Indiana. But things will end with primaries in New Jersey (Clinton currently leads by 11 points) and the big enchilada in California (Clinton also leads by 11). For the record, New Jersey holds a closed primary and California’s is semi-closed (both Democrats and uncommitted can vote, but must be pre-registered).

Last night, Steve Kornacki walked Jeff Weaver, Sanders campaign manager, through the remaining primary map. In the end, he suggested that their strategy was to work on flipping superdelegates to Sanders based on his superior case for electability. I question whether even the campaign buys that as a realistic strategy – especially when they recently made allegations that the DNC and Clinton were involved in illegal fundraising activities. It’s simply the best shot they’ve got right now to explain their ongoing presence in the primary. Tad Devine, Sanders’ senior advisor, telegraphed something more honest when he suggested that the campaign would “assess where we are” after next Tuesday’s contests.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.