Hillary Clinton can lose every remaining primary in the coming weeks and still clinch the nomination.
With Clinton’s double-digit win in New York and more than two dozen new superdelegates joining her camp, rival Bernie Sanders now faces a far steeper path.
Before New York’s contest, Sanders needed to win 68 percent of remaining delegates and uncommitted superdelegates to catch Clinton.
Now to capture the nomination, Sanders must win 73 percent. That means that Clinton can lose all remaining contests and still win. The campaign shifts to primaries Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware.
“He will be out of real estate on Tuesday night even if these states are all close, even if he wins a couple, even if we win three,” said Clinton senior strategist Joel Benenson. “He’s got to win them big, he’s got to win them by landslide and I don’t see that happening.”
If Clinton does as well as expected in next week’s primaries, she’s on track to clinch the nomination with help from superdelegates, the party insiders who can back either candidate, on June 7.
Based on primaries and caucuses alone, the latest AP delegate count, including New York, shows that Clinton leads by 1,428 to 1,151.
Including superdelegates, the race stands at 1,930 to 1,189, for Clinton. She needs just 27 percent of the remaining delegates and uncommitted superdelegates to reach the magic number, 2,383.
Clinton is moving quickly to cast herself as the all-but-certain nominee.
“The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight,” she told supporters at her victory party in Manhattan on Tuesday night.
Clinton added 33 new endorsements from superdelegates over the past month, according to a new Associated Press survey, expanding her already overwhelming support, despite Sanders’ recent string of victories in Wisconsin and the West. Sanders picked up just seven such endorsements.
Democratic allies of the Clinton campaign say there are dozens more who back her. Some say privately that they don’t want to make their support public because they fear aggressive online attacks from certain Sanders backers, who’ve harassed some superdelegates with threatening calls and emails.
The Sanders campaign contends that if he can close the gap with Clinton among delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses, the superdelegates will flock to his side to avoid overturning the will of the party’s voters. While superdelegates are free to switch their vote, Sanders would need to flip dozens to catch up to her.
Looking at just superdelegates, Clinton has 502, while Sanders has 38.
So far, none has switched to Sanders and there’s little indication many would defect.
“She’s the person I think who can continue to lead this country in the right direction,” said Democratic National Committee member Valarie McCall, of Cleveland, now for Clinton. “I don’t know how much more qualified one can be.”
Both campaigns had cast the New York primary as one that would either put Clinton on a clear path to the nomination or bolster Sanders after a string of primary wins.
Sanders aides are now saying they will re-examine the campaign’s position in the race after delegate-rich primaries in five northeastern states Tuesday.
“Next week is a big week,” said senior adviser Tad Devine. “We’ll see how we do there and then we’ll be able to sit back and assess where we are.”
Still, few in the Democratic Party expect Sanders to exit the race formally before the final contests in June. He continues to attract tens of thousands to rallies – addressing more than 28,000 in Brooklyn two days before the primary. And he continues to raise millions of dollars, giving him fodder for a persistent fight.
In New York, Sanders spent $6.5 million on television ads compared with $4.2 million for Clinton according to CMAG’s Kantar Media. The ad onslaught has come with a more negative tone going after her character – the issue Republicans want to put front and center in the fall election – and that has frustrated Clinton and her team.
The longer the race goes on, the more her negative ratings have risen. Fifty-six percent of people surveyed had a negative view of her, an all-time high, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this week.
Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said Sanders must decide whether he wants to continue to “make casualties” of the likely nominee and the Democratic Party.
But the success of Sanders, a decades-long independent, also underscores her weaknesses with critical segments of the Democratic coalition. She’s struggled with younger voters and liberal activists, whose enthusiasm will be necessary to fuel her general election bid.
While she stopped short of declaring victory on Tuesday night, Clinton has increasingly sprinkled her remarks with pleas for party unity.
“To all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us,” she told the cheering crowd.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.