Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to be the presumed Democratic nominee for 2016, despite a string of recent caucus and primary losses to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. What, if anything, do her recent losses mean? Politico offers its assessment this morning:
This wasn’t the way the Democratic primary was supposed to end. Clinton may have turned her focus to presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, but at the same time her campaign is forced to continue fighting a rear-guard action against Bernie Sanders, who shows no sign of surrender.
After going dark on television for several weeks, the former secretary of state is suddenly investing in television advertisements in Kentucky — a state that should have been in her wheelhouse. Deep into the primary schedule, Clinton is forced to reckon with almost weekly results highlighting her relative weaknesses with white men and young voters, and she’s only gradually been able to increase her swing state travel. All the while, Trump sharpens his day-to-day critiques of her.
Some Democrats are now growing uneasy over a rocky finish that has Clinton spending resources and political capital so late in the process....
Clinton is still on track to pass the threshold to clinch the nomination at some point in June using a combination of pledged delegates and superdelegates, and her lead among pledged delegates remains above 275. That makes it extremely difficult for Sanders to catch up to her unless he can win over a large number of the party elites who vote regardless of their state’s decision. Yet the Clinton campaign, cognizant of the need to show respect to Sanders’ legion of devoted supporters, is unable to initiate the call to unite behind her candidacy.
Ultimately Clinton is still likely to win the nomination, but the fact that she will have to expend time and resources to avoid or at least limit more embarrassing losses to Sanders could weaken her for the general election. Only time will tell how this plays out.