It’s gotta be close to midnight in the race to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, with big delegate states New York and Pennsylvania up for grabs on Tuesday. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have each been racing to eat the most pizza in New York City,* while Ted Cruz’s visit to the Bronx was canceled after students threatened to walk out in protest. Donald Trump seems to be coasting on his cameo in Home Alone 2, inside his own hotel.
The Democratic vote is expected to favor Clinton and Trump, but Cruz, John Kasich and Sanders are close behind. So who will be left singing “Take Me or Leave Me,” who will suffer the fate of Benny’s dog Akita, and who will chain themselves to a door and sing about Bohemia in fishnet stockings? Who is excited for primary season to be over so that I can stop referencing Rent lyrics?
Let’s take the chorus line person by person…
One Song, One Blaze of Glory
Trump seemed unstoppable. He had acquired a significant lead in delegates. Polls had him up everywhere. He was expected to take Wisconsin easily. That was all true until he said that there would be “some form of punishment” for women getting abortions.
He tried to walk it back. He corrected himself. But the damage was done. Trump opened himself up for the type of attacks that his opponents were waiting for. It all fed into the Stop Trump movement, organized by conservative media figures and donors, with one very obvious mission.
It worked. Trump found himself with his camera, alone, losing Wisconsin by 13 percentage points, picking up only six pledged delegates, bringing his still-substantial total in pledged delegates to 742 (he’s still well in the lead). Ted Cruz took the state with 48 percent of the vote, picking up 36 delegates and bringing his total to 505 delegates. John Kasich came in last with 14 percent of the vote, picking up zero delegates, keeping his delegate count at “just enough to infuriate Cruz” levels.
Cruz’s win doesn’t do much to secure him the number of pledged delegates needed to secure the nomination (1,237), but it does potentially prevent Trump from getting to the total needed.
Even though Trump is expected to win New York by substantial margins, the GOP race is now all about delegates for the convention…
Live In My House, I’ll Be Your Shelter (Super-delegate Mix)
The process by which a candidate is chosen at the convention is more confusing than filing out a FAFSA form. Basically, states choose a winner. Each state has a certain number of delegates based on the size of the population. Those delegates are actual real-life people, usually chosen at state party conventions. For most states, those folks chosen are forced to support the candidate that won that state (exceptions to this are Colorado and Louisiana, where Trump won, but most of the delegates going to the convention are supporting Cruz). However, if that candidate doesn’t secure the nomination on the first ballot by passing the magical number of delegates, the super-delegates can support whomever they like.
This is where the Cruz campaign comes in. They are working overtime stocking state delegates with Cruz supporters. With Cruz’s win in Wisconsin, it’s becoming an almost certainty that none of the GOP candidates left in the race will meet the total needed to secure the nomination. This means that the likelihood of someone winning on the first ballot is unlikely. Which means the convention could quickly turn into a backstabby cornucopia situation.
Where’s John Kasich in all this? He’s coming in second in the more moderate New York, and showing strength in Pennsylvania. That said, he’s only won one state (his home state, which, obviously your parents think you are adorable, but does it count as an endorsement?). His argument for staying in is directly geared towards party leaders who aren’t excited about Trump or Cruz. Should it get close, his camp will say he’s the only viable choice at a contested convention.
Considering the way the GOP race has gone, it’s unlikely we’ll know much of anything new after New York next week.
Will You Light [Bernie’s] Candle?
Bernie Sanders man, mad props. This dude has changed the game for the Democratic Party, and has been a force in this primary that nobody saw coming.
He won Wisconsin with 57 percent of the vote, adding 48 delegates, bringing his total up to 1,079. Hillary Clinton came in with 43 percent of the vote, adding 38 delegates, bringing her total to 1,298. The total needed to secure the nomination is 2,383.
Looking at Wisconsin, it’s hard not to see that this was a state tailor-made for Sanders. It’s 80 percent white (a group he consistently wins), it’s open for anybody to vote regardless of your party affiliation (Sanders regularly wins among independents), and it has a large college vote (young people love him like a rock star). So it’s not surprising he took the state by such a wide margin.
He also won the popular vote in the Wyoming caucus, but because of the proportional designation of delegates, both Sanders and Clinton secured seven delegates each.
However, this doesn’t change the reality of this race: he’s drastically behind Clinton in pledged delegates, making it all but impossible for him to catch up to her lead. He would need to win the next few states, New York and Pennsylvania, by huge margins in order to catch up.
It’s those two states that pose a problem for Sanders. Both states have a diverse electorate, something that Clinton has greatly benefited from in the past. Also both states are closed, meaning that only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary. Clinton usually wins with rank and file registered Democrats. So it’s definitely an uphill battle.
Which is why the Sanders campaign was pushing for a debate before the primary. After some nasty back and forth exchanges between the two campaigns, they settled on April 14, last night, phew boy. In the fierce back and forth, the crowd was going out of its mind; hip young bankers whooped for Clinton, and Phish fans waved their glo-sticks at Bernie. It was all so Brooklyn.
For Clinton, the next few states are less crucial and more aesthetic. A tie or a loss wouldn’t keep her from securing the nomination numerically, but it would bring considerable doubt to her ability to win in the general election. This is why Clinton is basically camping out in New York, the state she represented in the Senate for 8 years.
Tensions are high between the two campaigns, both have had some pretty terse words. After a Greenpeace activist confronted Clinton at a rally, she retorted, “I’m sick of the Sanders campaign lying about my record.” The accusation was that Clinton took money from people who work for the fossil fuel industry. Fact-checkers later showed that both campaigns have technically done this, and that her environmental record is pretty solid for a mainstream Democrat.