The End of the Road: A Preview of the June 7 Primary States

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It is finally over. No disrespect to DC, who votes next Tuesday, but this is the final big night in terms of voting. When the polls close in California tonight, the most volatile, unpredictable primary season in recent memory will officially come to a close. In addition to California, voters in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota will go to the polls today.

The suspense of tonight’s contests was deflated quite a bit when the AP declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive nominee after counting her pledged delegate total as well as her superdelegate total after doing a survey of party leaders to see who they would be supporting. All together, it was enough to put Clinton over the top of the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Of course the Sanders campaign did not like this one bit. In a statement, they decried the media’s rush to judgement in declaring Clinton the winner, stating, among other reasons, that no candidate will have the required number of pledged delegates to be the nominee and that the superdelegates don’t vote until the convention, so they shouldn’t be counted.

An argument can be made about whether the AP should have called the race the day before the final primary contests or not; but even if they had waited, they would have just delayed the inevitable. Clinton was going to surpass 2,383 after the polls in New Jersey closed, regardless.

This is also not a new phenomenon. On June 3, 2008, almost eight years ago to the day, Barack Obama was declared the presumptive nominee of the party after a number of superdelegates declared their support for him. In combination with the pledged delegates he won, these superdelegates put Obama over the top of the 2,118 delegates he needed to clinch.

Obama only won 1,828.5 pledged delegates, nearly 300 short of the magic number of 2,118. The 478 superdelegates that threw their support behind him, made up the rest.

I know some do not like it, but this is how it works.

Despite all of that, it is still worth it to pay attention to tonight’s results

We still do not know who is going to win California. A number of polls released over the last week show a two point race, with Clinton holding a two point lead in each. Sanders has closed the gap fast. Just a few weeks ago, polls showed Clinton leading by double digits.

Even with the race effectively over, the results in California will still have ramifications going forward.

The downside of the AP calling the primary race for Clinton is it may have an adverse effect on voter turnout. If Clinton’s supporters stay home knowing the outcome of California will not matter at the end of the day, it could hand the state to Bernie Sanders.

Obviously this would not make Bernie the nominee, but a victory in California could give him incentive to stay in the race until the convention and use some of his newfound leverage to extract more concessions from Clinton and the DNC. In other words, Clinton being declared the winner last night may create even more headaches for her in the short term.

Clinton was careful not to go into full celebration mode last night. She told her supporters that despite the AP call, there was still work to be done and six more states have to vote.

This brings me to the other reason to tune in tonight. What are the candidates going to say? There is not much guessing when it comes to Hillary Clinton. Much like Obama in 2008, she will declare victory and will likely heap a ton of praise on Bernie Sanders for the impressive campaign he ran and how he highlighted the importance of getting big money out of politics, raising wages for the middle class, and college affordability. She will be extending an olive branch to Bernie and his supporters.

In terms of what Sanders will do, it will likely be based on the results in California. I already stated what he will likely do if he pulls off a win. The question is what he will do if he loses. A loss in California blows apart any small amount of rationale he would have to remain in the race.

In my humble opinion, he is likely to, ironically, take the same road Hillary Clinton took after the final day of the primary season in 2008. Even though Obama clinched the nomination, Clinton did not bow out of the race that night, saying “this has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight.” She said this as her supporters chanted “Denver,” the location of the national convention that year. Translation, he supporters wanted a contested convention.

Her campaign also indicated they were considering a challenge the to DNC’s ruling on the number of delegates and superdelegates from Florida and Michigan being seated at the convention that year.

Each state moved its primary date towards the front of the primary calendar, in violation of party rules. As a result, the DNC initially said delegates and superdelegates from each state would not be seated at the national convention. In late March of 2008, the party ruled that each state would be able to seat half of their original allotment of delegates at the convention. Seeing as how Clinton won both states, she was adamant that each state’s delegates be fully restored and seated at the convention.

However, after realizing it was a lost cause and that the party did not want to go into the convention divided and without a nominee, Clinton saw the writing on the wall and dropped out of the race, and endorsed Obama, on June 7. Just four days after the final primary contests took place.

If Sanders loses California, I like to think he would do something similar, despite his promise to take his fight to the convention. After all, every candidate says they will “take it to the convention” until reality sets in.

We will find out for sure in a few short hours.

Here is a look into each state holding elections today.

California

Who votes: Modified primary. Registered Democrats and Independents are able to request a Democratic Party ballot and participate in the primary.

Poll closings: Polls will close at 8:00 p.m. PST. 11:00 p.m. on the East Coast.

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 550 total delegates available: 475 pledged delegates; 75 unpledged superdelegates. 370 awarded by district; 105 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.

California’s statewide delegates are awarded on a proportional basis to the candidates receiving at least 15% of the vote. The same is true in California’s 53 congressional districts.

Polling: As I stated in the introduction, most polls are showing Clinton with a two point lead. A lot will be determined on whether or not people are dissuaded from voting after the AP’s calling of the race last night. The winner of the state will also largely be determined by who does the best among California’s sizable Hispanic electorate.

New Jersey

Who votes: Modified primary. Registered Independents are not eligible to vote in the primary. “Unaffiliated” voters, however, can participate but their party affiliation will be changed to Democrat once they do.

Poll closings: Polls will close at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 142 total delegates available: 126 pledged delegates; 16 unpledged superdelegates. 84 awarded by district; 42 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.

Statewide delegates are awarded on a proportional basis to the candidates receiving at least 15% of the vote.

84 delegates will be allocated proportionally based on the results in New Jersey’s 20 “delegate districts.” Delegates will not be awarded based on results from the state’s congressional districts.

Delegate districts are two state legislative districts paired together. New Jersey as a total of 40 legislative districts and they are represented by members to of the State Senate and General Assembly. For example: Delegate District 1 consists of Legislative Districts 1 and 2; Delegate District 2 consists of Legislative Districts 3 and 4; and so on.

Polling: Polls have consistently showed Clinton leading Sanders by significant margins. New Jersey is a diverse state and right next door to Clinton’s adopted home state of New York, where she beat Sanders by 16% back in April.

Barring a drastic turn of events, expect the state to be called for Clinton shortly after the polls close.

New Mexico

Who votes: Closed Primary.

Poll closings: Polls will close at 7:00 p.m. MST. 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 43 total delegates available: 34 pledged delegates; nine (9) unpledged superdelegates. 23 awarded by district; 11 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.

Statewide delegates are awarded on a proportional basis to the candidates receiving at least 15% of the vote.

The state’s three (3) congressional districts will also allocate delegates on a proportional basis to candidates receiving at least 15% of the vote.

Polling: Very little polling has been done in New Mexico. The last one was conducted in February and had Clinton up by 14%. A lot has changed since then and Sanders has done well with young Hispanic voters throughout the year. The question is, will there be enough of them to give him a win in the home state of Walter White?

Montana

Who votes: Open Primary.

Poll closings: Polls will close at 8:00 p.m. MST. 10:00 p.m. on the East Coast

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 27 total delegates available: 21 pledged delegates; six (6) unpledged superdelegates. 15 awarded by district; six (6) awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.

Statewide delegates are awarded on a proportional basis to the candidates receiving at least 15% of the vote.

Montana is a state that only has one congressional district. So, in order to allocated districtwide delegates, the state is divided into an eastern district and a western district. The western district will award eight (8) delegates proportionally; the eastern district will award seven (7).

Polling: No polls have been conducted in Montana this year. Given the trends of the primary from the beginning, Montana is a state Sanders should win pretty easily.

North Dakota

Who votes: Open Caucus.

Poll closings: The legislative district caucus begins at 7:00 p.m. MST (9:00 p.m. EST)

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 23 total delegates available: 18 pledged delegates; five (5) unpledged superdelegates. 12 awarded by district; six (6) awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state level.

12 delegates are pledged to the candidates based on the support they get at the Legislative District Caucuses taking place tonight.

The six (6) available statewide delegates will be allocated to the candidates based on the support received at the state convention, which takes place on Saturday, June 18.

South Dakota

Who votes: Modified Primary. Open to all voters who want to participate as Democrats.

Poll closings: Polls close at 7:00 p.m. MST (9:00 p.m. EST)

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 25 total delegates available: 20 pledged delegates; five (5) unpledged superdelegates. 14 awarded by district; six (6) awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at the state level.

14 delegates will be awarded proportionally based on the results in the state’s one at-large congressional district.

Six (6) delegates will be proportionally allocated based on the statewide results.

So basically, they will be using the same vote count to determine the district and statewide delegate allocation.

North and South Dakota Polling: Like Montana, no polling has been done in the Dakota’s this year.

And also like Montana, the demographics and trends suggest Sanders will win both of these states as well. Likely by a wide margin.

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