WASHINGTON — Spoiler Alert: Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will emerge from Tuesday’s coast-to-coast contests the presumptive presidential nominees of their parties.
On that, there’s not much suspense: Trump has held that title for weeks, and Clinton clinched it on the eve of the votes. But Tuesday’s contests in six states and the candidates’ speeches are full of history, emotion and drama.
Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman ever assured of a major party’s presidential nomination. For Donald Trump, the night is a chance to take yet another victory lap after a bumpy run with the Republican Party he is set to lead.
And for Bernie Sanders, Tuesday’s contests could cap a remarkable and resilient campaign to level the American playing field – and vexing the Clinton armada for a solid year. But Sanders is suggesting he’s not done.
Political mathletes get to stand down after Tuesday’s votes and the final contest of the primaries in District of Columbia June 14.
Here’s a look at how Tuesday is unfolding:
Clinton and Sanders are poised to split the 694 Democratic delegates up for grabs in New Jersey, California, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota. The District of Columbia, which offers 20 delegates, is the last to vote.
On the Republican side? That’s all, folks.
The ferocious 17-way battle for the GOP nomination ends quietly Tuesday with the contest’s final votes in five states (there’s no GOP contest in North Dakota).
Technically, it’s still not over on either side. Neither Clinton nor Trump will be their parties’ official nominees until the formalities of the delegate votes at the parties’ national conventions. Associated Press counts of Republican and Democratic convention delegates found enough support to assure Clinton and Trump their parties’ nominations.
WHY IT MATTERS FOR CLINTON
This time, Clinton gets the celebration she’d hoped for in 2008 – and by many accounts, long before that.
Her victory speech Tuesday in the Brooklyn Navy Yard carries meaning and history to Clinton and her supporters. It comes after the one-two punch of clinching the nomination in historic fashion and wrapping up the last big round of primaries. It also marks the eight-year anniversary of Clinton’s concession speech to then-Sen. Barack Obama, in which she noted her campaign hadn’t breached “that highest, hardest glass ceiling” but that barrier now had “about 18 million cracks in it.”
She’s now assured of crossing that boundary as the first woman to win the presidential nomination of any party. How she proceeds toward Election Day begins with mending the stubborn split between her supporters and Sanders’ – and depends significantly on how well she learns a bracing lesson he taught her: Young people, especially young women, flocked to him in the primaries.
The occasion also opens the gates to flashy endorsements. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi didn’t wait for the votes Tuesday to announce her support. There’s a bigger one on the horizon from President Obama, followed by joint appearances.
WHY IT MATTERS FOR TRUMP
The contests Tuesday give the billionaire mogul a high-profile way to pivot from several difficult days in which members of his own party nearly unanimously ordered him to cease his criticism of an American-born judge based on the jurist’s ethnicity. As votes proceeded Tuesday, Trump issued a statement saying he doesn’t intend to comment further on U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s impartiality in the lawsuits against Trump University.
Trump’s remarks at his golf club in Westchester County, New York, open the way for him to make good on his promise to unite the badly fractured Republican Party. GOP leaders made clear that their support – most of it lukewarm – was conditioned on the understanding that he lead that reunification, stat. And that means talking about issues they can agree on – such as making sure a Republican president fills open seats on the Supreme Court.
For at least one high-profile Republican, it was too late: Sen. Mark Kirk, who is in a tough re-election fight in Illinois, rescinded his endorsement of Trump. House Speaker Paul Ryan kept his but called Trump’s remarks “racist” and suggested that the mature thing for Trump to do would be to admit they were wrong.
The conclusion of Tuesday’s contests gives Trump a big stage on which to put the unpleasantness behind him – and again point out that he’s the one who has received millions of votes and earned the 1,237 delegates required to win GOP presidential nomination.
WHAT ABOUT BERNIE?
Sanders was insisting Tuesday that “I think we’ve got a shot” at winning California and persuading Democratic superdelegates, who can vote for any candidate, to switch from Clinton to him. Superdelegates who were counted in Clinton’s total told the AP they were unequivocally supporting her.
Sanders told NBC Tuesday, “I’m going to do everything that I can to fight for the working class for this country, for the low-income people.”
Sanders planned to travel to Vermont on Wednesday, and beyond that has declined to describe his plans.
His campaign, however, sent out a fundraising email Tuesday evening urging supporters to help him finish strong June 14 in the District of Columbia contest.
THE MONEY CHASE
With their primary contests behind them, the candidates can more fully turn their attention to the business of financing their general election operations.
Clinton has a significant head start, having spent months building supporter lists during the primary and partnering with Democratic leaders since November to build up general election cash resources. Trump is significantly behind.
Because Trump largely funded his primary bid by loaning millions of dollars to his campaign, he is just now getting a fundraising operation off the ground. Through a deal with the Republican National Committee, Trump will spend much of June raising money for himself and other Republicans. He has three fundraisers scheduled June 16-18 in Texas and will attend a fundraising dinner June 21 in his native New York City, followed by a breakfast the next day.
IN HOUSE ELECTION NEWS …
In North Carolina Tuesday, Rep. Renee Ellmers, endorsed by Trump, became the first Republican incumbent ousted in this year’s primaries. Rep. George Holding defeated her in a contest resulting from redrawn district lines.
Across the country, California is poised – barring a surprise – to send two Democratic women running for Senate to the November ballot: Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County.
If the trends hold, it would be the first time since the start of direct Senate elections a century ago that a Republican has not appeared on a California general election ballot for the U.S. Senate, says Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney. Republicans in the state account for only 27 percent of registered voters.