After all the excitement over Bernie Sanders, his candidacy must face the cold reality of the results so far.
Thanks to her clean sweep of five victories last night, Hillary Clinton now has a pledged delegate lead of more than 300, and a lead of more than 700 if 'superdelegates' are counted.
Superdelegates are party officials who are officially, if controversially, given a say in the process.
The Sanders camp claims that Clinton must win a majority of pledged delegates before declaring herself the nominee, but the rules say she wins once she has a majority of super and pledged delegates (which is 2,383 in total).
To cross that line, ‘the Secretary’, as Sanders calls her, will need to win just one-third of all remaining delegates in the 28 contests yet to vote.
A third of all those remaining means just under 800 delegates.
And Clinton would win nearly 900 just by winning 60 per cent of the vote in California, New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Arizona while splitting the vote in Pennsylvania (and winning 60 per cent in the small, quasi-states of Puerto Rico and Washington DC).
These are the big, diverse and delegate-rich states that are yet to vote, and most of which are likely to favour Clinton.
Many of them have similar voters to those in Florida, the US’ third-largest state, which Clinton won by 32 points last night while taking more than 65 per cent of the vote.
The nearly 900 delegates she’d win from these states doesn’t include the many delegates she’ll win even when she loses.
The Democratic race allocates all delegates proportionally, so she can lose to Sanders by 20 points in states like Washington, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Oregon and still win dozens of delegates.
Sanders’ support among young, white, and liberal voters never extended to the black and Latino voters that make up much of the Democratic coalition, nor the older white voters who have handed Hillary wins in the big states of Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio and Florida and across much of the South.
The Democratic race may drag on until June, but Clinton is – as has always seemed likely, and become increasingly certain over the past month – going to be the nominee.
It’s time to focus on the general election.
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