Hello, I'm Will Jordan and welcome to The Pulse.
Good morning. The last big day of the primary has arrived. Here's what you need to know about California, New Jersey, and whether it even matters now:
- Where do things stand now?
Republicans: Donald Trump is still the presumptive nominee.
Democrats: Following two big wins over the weekend, in the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Hillary Clinton is only 23 delegates away from the — ah! As the AP has reported, the nomination has now been called for Hillary Clinton, and the first draft of my newsletter is garbage! Clinton is the first woman nominee for a major party in US history.
- How did that just happen?
The AP, to their credit, have been carefully surveying the unpledged “superdelegates” for some time to determine their support. Essentially, they heard from another 20 or so superdelegates who “unequivocally” support Clinton, which, combined with her wins over the weekend, pushed her over the 2,383 threshold.
- Do today’s primaries even matter?
While the superdelegates are not bound to any primary result, they have never in history denied the nomination to a candidate who won the majority of pledged delegates (or votes). This year that means reaching 2,026, which neither Sanders (1,512) nor Clinton (1,812) has done yet. Clinton is on the cusp: she needs only about 30% of the remaining delegates to reach 2,026, while Sanders needs 70%, which would take a miracle. When Sanders talks about a “contested convention” he is talking about convincing superdelegates to change their support and override Clinton’s lead in the pledged delegates, something else that is almost certain not to happen.
- What does this mean for California?
As we mentioned last week, California was never actually going to be more than a symbolic victory for Sanders. In that sense, the AP call doesn’t change anything. But a loss in California would still put a damper on Clinton’s big night, and give Sanders another rallying cry. The YouGov/CBS poll released over the weekend also indicates a tight race, with Clinton up 2 points. It’s hard to say how Clinton preemptively “winning” affects things – does low turnout increase the value of her edge in the early vote? Or will her voters decide not to turn up? In the latest YouGov/Economist Poll, 95% of Clinton supporters nationwide already thought she would win the nomination, as did 55% of Sanders supporters. So we’ll see. She seems assured victory in New Jersey, where YouGov has her up 27 points. There has been little polling in the other races, but demographics favor Clinton in New Mexico and Sanders in Montana and the Dakotas.
- Trump said what about a judge?
He said that a federal judge cannot preside over a lawsuit involving one of Trump’s now defunct ventures, Trump University, because he’s “a Mexican”. The judge was born in Indiana, with Mexican heritage. It has been roundly condemned. Of course, 80% of Republicans voters continue to back Trump in the latest YouGov/Economist Poll, virtually no change from two weeks ago. However, remarks like these have tended to push away more voters than they bring in. Trump appears to be struggling with the transition from primary campaign to general election campaign.
- Something else: French toast?
Conservative commentator Bill Kristol recently suggested a third-party presidential run by a little known blogger named David French. French promptly, politely, declined. YouGov found almost no one knew who he was, and only 4% wanted him to run. A more plausible third party player, however, is Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson. One recent poll found Johnson polling as high as 16% in Utah, a deeply conservative state, taking votes mainly from Donald Trump. A word of caution about polls like these, however: YouGov’s national polling found only 36% of Americans would say they had even heard of Johnson. The number who actually have an idea of his views – an unexpected mix of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism – is probably negligible. Let’s wait till people learn more.
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The Pulse is a weekly newsletter YouGov has launched ahead of the 2016 primaries and general election to give readers a one-stop-shop for the latest polling-related news from the campaign. In addition to YouGov’s own extensive coverage of the election, The Pulse gives you the five things you need to know about the state of the campaign each week (and one you don't need to know but we think is worth knowing anyway!).