As it turns out, Hillary Clinton did not need to wait until the California primary to clinch her nomination as the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. The Associated Press, which is accepted as the final authority in tracking delegate counts, reported on Monday that Hillary had reached the magic number of 2,383 delegates thus assuring her the support of a majority of the delegates at the July convention.
Hillary Clinton will become the first woman in history to be nominated for President of the United States by one of the major political parties. Whatever one’s political beliefs it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on this historic milestone.
In the end, it was the superdelegates that put her over the top just hours ahead of the California primary. Over the weekend, Hillary won primaries in The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by convincing margins and picked up 43 delegates compared to only 20 for Bernie Sanders putting her on the cusp of reaching a majority. The weekend wins and the certainty that she would do well in Tuesday’s primaries, convinced enough of the remaining uncommitted superdelegates to declare their support for Mrs. Clinton.
Campaign Downplays Victory
While the Clinton camp was pleased with the AP announcement, there was concern that the timing could dampen the turnout of Hillary’s supporters in Tuesday’s races, particularly in the all-important California primary. The New York Times reported that Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, stated that the AP’s call was “an important milestone” but indicated Mrs. Clinton did not intend to declare victory until Tuesday night, when she “will clinch not only a win in the popular vote, but also the majority of pledged delegates.”
A Sanders victory in California could embolden Bernie to continue all the way to the July convention.
A win in California’s Tuesday primary remains an important goal for Clinton. While her supporters hope that Bernie Sanders will go quietly into the night that is by no means a done deal. A Sanders victory in California could embolden Bernie to continue his quixotic journey all the way to the July convention.
Lessons From the 2008 Loss to Obama
It was eight years ago on June 7, 2008, that Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic presidential nomination to Barrack Obama. It is to Hillary’s credit that she accepted her loss to Obama with grace and rolled up her sleeves to enhance her resume by serving as Secretary of State for four years. That gave her a new measure of respect in the eyes of the public and solidified the public’s view of her as something more than an ex-First Lady.
Hillary and her team learned valuable lessons from 2008, which they applied to the 2016 campaign. Clinton retooled her campaign for 2016 and vowed not to repeat the mistakes of 2008. The Washington Post noted:
Clinton won this nomination before any votes were cast. She cast herself as such a prohibitive favorite that she scared away the likes of Vice President Biden or any other top-tier candidate who could have been a real problem. What was left was Sanders, a 74-year-old Democratic Socialist from Vermont.
The nomination process of the Democrat Party is anything but democratic. There is a total of 4,763 delegates that will vote at the Democratic convention. Of these, 719 are the so-called superdelegates that consist mostly of Democrat Party luminaries. Due to rules of proportionality that govern the Party’s primary process, it becomes almost impossible for any one candidate to gain an insurmountable lead in the primaries as the delegates are allocated based on a formula tied to the percentage of the vote.
As a result, superdelegates who are not tied to actual voters carry an inordinate amount of influence in determining the nominee. Hillary Clinton has paid her dues as a loyal and capable Democratic, while Bernie Sanders has mostly ignored the Democratic Party during his years in the Senate. The Democrat Party was never going to let Bernie Sanders become the nominee.
Going forward Hillary Clinton is the nominee of the Democrat Party and will face Donald Trump in the fall. It will be a campaign pitting the ultimate insider against an outlandish outsider. It’s guaranteed to be an exciting fall.