What’s at Stake in the Last Major Wave of 2016 Primary Contests
Today marks the final wave of contests for the Republicans and the last time multiple states vote for the Democrats. (Washington, D.C., will hold its Democratic primary next week.) Voters in California, New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota and New Mexico all head to the polls today, and North Dakota holds a Democratic caucus.
In many ways, the contests are settled. The Associated Press has declared that Hillary Clinton has amassed the necessary 2,383 delegates to secure the nomination, a position Trump has been in for over a month. But there are still 694 pledged delegates for the Democrats, the largest amount since March 15, and 303 for the GOP.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s at stake:
States voting today
California, 172 delegates
Montana, 27 delegates
New Jersey, 51 delegates
New Mexico, 24 delegates
South Dakota, 29 delegates
Total delegates available: 303
Donald Trump has effectively been the presumptive nominee since the Indiana primary, after Ted Cruz and John Kasich suspended their campaigns. He officially surpassed the 1,237 delegates necessary for the nomination on May 26.
However, that count included unbound delegates, those who do not have to vote for him on the first ballot. Trump currently has 1,140 bound delegates, and will almost certainly acquire the remaining 97 delegates enabling him to surpass 1,237. And of course, as he has repeatedly said at rallies, he has already broken the record for the number of votes received in a Republican primary, and he wants to keep raising the number. He will be looking to these six states to help him do that.
States voting today
California, 475 pledged delegates
Montana, 21 pledged delegates
New Jersey, 126 pledged delegates
New Mexico, 34 pledged delegates
North Dakota, 18 pledged delegates
South Dakota, 20 pledged delegates
Total pledged delegates: 694
As stated above, Hillary Clinton has already reached the magic number for the nomination, a number which will certainly rise given the number of delegates available today. However, Clinton reached that number by gaining support of 571 superdelegates, party leaders who can switch their vote at any time. It is highly unlikely that she will get to 2,383 with only pledged delegates. But she only needs 216 more pledged delegates — 31 percent of today’s haul — to acquire a majority of pledged delegates.
Bernie Sanders, who has vowed to fight through today’s primaries, is relying on superdelegates switching their allegiance to have a shot at the nomination. To strengthen his argument, he is trying to win California, which would give him, at a an absolute minimum, over 230 delegates.
Even if Sanders does win California, he has an uphill climb to amass a majority of pledged delegates, which would arguably be his best argument to sway the superdelegates. To fulfill this objective, he needs 504 pledged delegates — 73 percent of today’s total haul.
If he sweeps the six Democratic contests today, he will surpass Clinton in the number of states won: His total would be 26 states, while hers would be 24.