A huge win in California has confirmed Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. This has set the stage for a November showdown against Donald Trump, as the final six states voted for the 2016 presidential primary season.
Despite many polls and much commentary this year pointing towards contested conventions for both major political parties, the Associated Press reported a victory for Clinton even before the final Super Tuesday, after polling Democratic superdelegates of their voting intentions.
With Clinton scoring wins in four of the six remaining states, barring another twist in this election only one nominee is left standing for both the Republicans and Democrats, and the first female presidential nominee for either major party.
Previewing her victory speech with a short film dedicated to the achievements of women, Clinton had a sense for the enormity of the occasion.
“Tonight caps an amazing journey – a long, long journey,” she said.
“Tonight’s victory… belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”
Over the weekend, President Barack Obama called both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to congratulate them on their Democratic presidential campaigns, but had not yet thrown his support behind Clinton in order to be respectful.
But with a territorial primary still to come in the District of Columbia next week, Sanders has vowed to still fight on until the party convention, hoping to flip superdelegates to bolster his chances of being the Democratic nominee.
“Next Tuesday we continue the fight,” the Vermont Senator said. “We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C., and then we take our fight social, economic, racial and environmental justice.”
However, the writing is on the wall for Sanders. At this point he would be required to take almost every superdelegate from Clinton – including her husband Bill – to win.
So with the primary season all but over, the next events on the election calendar come at the national party conventions, with Cleveland hosting the Republicans and Philadelphia accommodating the Democrats during July.
Both the conferences will work as the platforms for the parties to come together and endorse their election candidates, both district, gubernatorial and presidential. The delegates that candidates have won across the primaries will gather for the formal process of confirming the nominations in a ballot.
For the Republicans the focus of their convention will be to rally their fractured supporter base and elected officials, who have yet to all come out in support of Donald Trump.
Head of the GOP in Congress, Speaker Paul Ryan, has used the last week to call for party unity, despite his own endorsement of Trump being buried in an opinion piece for the Janesville Gazette, his local paper in Wisconsin.
While positioned as the Republican nominee for five weeks now, Trump has failed to capitalise on the extra time to start campaigning against the Democrat hopefuls, after falling under attack from his own party, the press and the public.
Trump’s comments regarding a federal judge with a Mexican background have meant another week of the spotlight on him for his actions and not necessarily his policies.
It will be interesting to see if the convention in Cleveland will herald for him the adulation he loves, or whether it will be marred by controversy and protest from his opposition. If the Republicans come out of Cleveland anything like the local sporting teams, then Trump won’t be happy.
As it stands, the poll figures have Clinton and Trump neck and neck, with the Democrat slightly ahead.
However, many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters have answered these polls in a way that their votes would not go to Clinton in the case of her winning the nomination. In reality, the supporters of a democratic socialist would much rather see Clinton in the White House than Trump.
Reflecting the dissatisfaction of the electorate, polls also have declared Clinton and Trump as the “most hated presidential candidates in history.”
With this sentiment, the third-party outsiders are also starting to make their runs, with smaller budgets not affording them the same travel and advertising schedule as the big contenders.
Libertarian Gary Johnson has made several high-profile media appearances and both him and Green Party candidate Jill Stein have appeared with better-than-expected results in national polls, given their parties usually only gain 1% each of the national vote.
What to look out for next in this election year is the ensuing battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. However, don’t expect policy to dominate the conversation, with personal attacks about their past actions expected to play a big role in convincing the electorate of who to vote for.
And let’s not forget that this contest will drag on until November. If you’re sick of the Australian campaign already, then just imagine another five months of politicians talking!
By Tom Storey