The presidential primary season is now all but over. California, New Jersey and four other states voted Tuesday, delivering Hillary Clinton the final, crushing blow she needed to close out Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.
I picked a handful of winners and losers from the final big night of the 2016 primary season. They’re below.
– Hillary Clinton: The former secretary of state had clinched the Democratic nomination on Monday night, but she finished strong in the last major votes of the race – winning four of the six states on the June 7 ballot including a much-larger-than-expected victory in California. (More on that below in the “losers” section.) Those wins – particularly in California – rob Sanders of any serious argument as to why he should stay in the Democratic race and likely mean he drops out sooner rather than later.
Clinton’s nomination-clinching speech was confident and confrontational, signaling that she is ready, willing and able for the challenge of taking on an opponent as unorthodox as Donald Trump.
And, last but not least, Clinton just became the first woman in history to clinch a major party nomination for U.S. president. That’s a pretty nice night.
– Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell: The two highest ranking Republicans in Congress had made their disappointment and frustration with Trump’s say-what-I-want strategy increasingly obvious. “Clean up your act now or we will lead a full scale revolt against you” was the very clear message Ryan and McConnell sent Trump over the last 72 hours.
On Tuesday night, the duo got what they wanted: A measured – and scripted! – Trump, who acknowledged the responsibility he had been handed as the Republican presidential nominee and pledged to “never let you down.” Whether Trump sticks to that promise is anyone’s guess – and judging from his past behavior it would be a good guess that he won’t. But, for one night at least, Ryan and McConnell showed that they could bring the Republican nominee to heel.
– Kamala Harris: The California attorney general topped 40 percent in a massively crowded field for the seat of retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). She still has to beat Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) in the fall, but Harris is very well positioned to become the first black woman in the Senate since Carol Moseley Braun lost her re-election race in 1998. And, Harris will immediately become a contender for the national ticket in either 2020 or 2024 – depending on what happens in the fall.
– Teleprompters: What a night for the these little devils! Trump, who had savaged the idea of a politician using them to read an important speech, went full teleprompter for his victory speech. (Trump, previously, on teleprompters: “If you run for president, you shouldn’t be allowed to use teleprompters. Because you don’t even know if the guy’s smart.”) And so did Clinton.
Teleprompters: Our one truly bipartisan success story.
– Bernie Sanders: California was the Vermont senator’s last hope to remain a major player all the way through the Democratic convention next month. He didn’t just lose but lost badly. (With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton has a 56 percent to 43 percent lead.) From a practical standpoint, that means that Clinton will win a majority of all pledged delegates and further lengthen her edge on that front over Sanders. Symbolically for Sanders, it drains out any of the air still left in his balloon.
The New York Times is reporting that Sanders will lay off half his staff Wednesday. He’ll meet with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday. It’s all over. Now the only issue is figuring out the when and how of leaving the race and throwing his support to Clinton.
– Caucuses: Sanders won the North Dakota caucuses going away on Tuesday night. That’s in keeping with one of the very clear dynamics of the Democratic race: Clinton ran very poorly in caucuses. (This was also true in her 2008 race against Barack Obama.)
Now that Clinton is the presumptive nominee – and especially if she gets elected president – you can be sure most of the states that hold presidential caucuses will get the message that it’s time to scrap them and move to primaries.
– Renee Ellmers: The North Carolina congresswoman was always something of a long shot to come back to Congress after redistricting paired her up with fellow incumbent George Holding. But when Ellmers won the endorsement of Trump, who even recorded a robo-call for her, there was some chatter that it might make a difference. Nope! Ellmers lost to Holding by 30 points and barely edged out a lesser-known third candidate for second place.
Then there was the fact that she got caught on a live microphone greeting a woman by telling her that she had “gained some weight” and adding: “You’re eating a little bit too much pork barbecue. Whoo!” Good times.
– California polls: Going into Tuesday’s vote, the final three polls in the Democratic presidential race in the Golden State put Clinton ahead of Sanders by two points. She won by 13.
That’s a pretty big miss, right?
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Chris Cillizza