WASHINGTON — It’s finally here: the last big primary night of the 2016 presidential race. (Sorry, D.C., we know you’re still to come.)
Now the presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton is offering a big hint for how her dogged rival, Bernie Sanders, might want to grapple with that reality and Tuesday’s six-state round of results.
She’s helpfully pointing out that on this date eight years ago, she dropped out of the Democratic presidential race and endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama. Don’t expect Sanders to take her up on that invitation right away. It may take him some time to process the situation.
A guide to what to watch on Tuesday night:
Grab some coffee and prepare for a long night, as Democrats dole out 694 delegates and Republicans 303. Polls close at 8 p.m. EDT in New Jersey; 9 p.m. in New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota; 10 p.m. in Montana; and 11 p.m. for the big prize of California.
Without the benefit of exit polls, it will take longer to call races than otherwise would be the case. In 2012, here’s how the vote count looked an hour after each state’s polls closed: New Jersey, about 10 per cent; New Mexico, 26 per cent; South Dakota, 65 per cent; Montana, 20 per cent; California, 40 per cent. North Dakota is holding only a Democratic caucus. The AP vote count there will be the presidential preferences of the 394 people elected to attend the state delegate selection meeting.
Looking for early tea leaves to read in California? Watch turnout: Sanders says heavy traffic would bode well for him, especially among young voters. And watch how the two candidates fare in areas that are predominantly Hispanic and African American, two groups that have given Clinton a lot of love in past primaries. A sign of potential trouble for #feelthebern: There’s been no sign of a surge in young voters in early vote-by-mail returns, despite a jump in registration of young people.
Clinton reached the magic number of 2,383 delegates on the strength of superdelegate endorsements that piled up on the eve of Tuesday’s vote, but she opted to hold off on any big pronouncements before the voting ends. She’ll appear Tuesday night at a Brooklyn Navy Yard rally that is sure to be a giant celebration, regardless of the primary results.
How much will she play up the historic nature of at last becoming the first woman to become the presumptive presidential nominee of a major party?
“I do think it will make a very big difference for a father or a mother to be able to look at their daughter, just like they can look at their son, and say, ‘You can be anything you want to be in this country, including president of the United States,’ ” she said Monday.
And how much does she look past her long-sought achievement to get busy taking the fight to Donald Trump?
The Vermont senator faces a big decision as Clinton cements her place as the presumptive nominee: Does he vow to fight on to the Democratic convention in July, or begin to pull back, particularly if he loses California? Over the weekend, a defiant Sanders insisted he would take his campaign all the way to the Philadelphia convention, and rejected the idea that Clinton could presume to have the nomination sewed up through a combination of pledged delegates and superdelegates.
By Monday, his tone had softened somewhat, but he was still insisting he’s the stronger candidate to defeat Trump. His voice hoarse from the strains of campaigning, his path to the nomination foreclosed, it will be a tough primary-night rally for Sanders in Santa Monica.
ABOUT THOSE SUPERDELEGATES
Heading into Tuesday’s vote, Clinton had 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses and Sanders had 1,521. And when superdelegates are included, she led 2,383 to 1,569, according to an AP survey. Check out Clinton’s pledged delegate lead at the end of the night. She won’t be able to reach 2,383 without superdelegates, but the magnitude of her pledged delegates lead could help determine how forcefully Sanders makes the case that superdelegates should change their minds and swing his way.
Don’t forget: The Republicans also are voting on Tuesday, although their nominee already is settled. Donald Trump will speak Tuesday night at his Westchester County golf club in New York. If he takes questions from the press, watch to see if it’s a repeat performance of his last press conference, which was marked by hostile exchanges with reporters.
Another key question: Will Trump play nice with fellow Republicans and work on unifying a party that still is having heartburn over what to do with its unconventional nominee.
WHO’S WITH REAGAN
It won’t matter in the long run, but just for fun check out whether Ronald Reagan, who died in 2004, turns up on write-in ballots in California. The San Diego Union-Tribune last week urged Republicans to write in the former president’s name to send a message to Trump.
DON’T TUNE OUT JUST YET
The District of Columbia will bring up the rear. It allocates 20 Democratic delegates on June 14.
AP writers Stephen Ohlemacher and Hope Yen in Washington and Michael Blood in Los Angeles contributed to this report.