WASHINGTON — Hillary Clinton has narrowly won Connecticut's Democratic primary, completing a big night for the Democratic front-runner and fur
The win wasn't entirely unexpected, though polls showed the race closing prior to Tuesday's vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was hoping to score an upset in the Nutmeg State, which has something of a history of backing more liberal candidates. But a win wouldn't have been enough -- he needed a substantial victory to gain ground in the pledged delegate count that will ultimately determine who ends up the nominee. Clinton was able to build on that lead elsewhere on Tuesday night, with wins in the Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware primaries. Her only loss was in Rhode Island.
Connecticut, which has a closed primary, awards its 55 delegates on a proportional basis, meaning that Sanders' loss wasn't overly severe. There are, additionally, 16 so-called superdelegates from the state. Many have come out in support of Clinton, but they retain the option of changing their vote before the convention.
Sanders' chance of securing the nomination rests on getting those superdelegates to make that change. His campaign has conceded that he is unlikely to overtake Clinton in pledged delegates or popular vote. But aides to the senator say that neither candidate will have the necessary number of delegates to wrap up the nomination before the convention. Therefore, they will encourage superdelegates to switch their votes on the grounds that the Vermont independent will be better positioned to go against a Republican nominee in the fall.
Clinton's win in Connecticut doesn't complicate that case, necessarily. But it does make it harder for Sanders to argue that he is the candidate with the momentum heading into the convention. The senator has argued that Clinton's support has come primarily from the South and won't translate nationally, but her wins in the Northeast challenge that idea.
Prior to Tuesday's primary, both both candidates spent time campaigning in Connecticut. Sanders held a rally in Hartford on Monday and one in New Haven on Sunday. Clinton stopped in New Haven and Bridgeport on Sunday, and held a town hall meeting on gun violence in Hartford late last week. Former President Bill Clinton and former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) held get out the vote events in Hartford and New Haven on Monday.
Sending Giffords to Connecticut wasn't a coincidence. The former congresswoman has become a fierce gun control advocate after she was shot in the head during a town hall event in her home state. Connecticut has likewise been deeply affected by gun violence, with the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School taking place in December 2012.
The Clinton campaign sought to make gun control one of its signature issues in the state's primary by painting Sanders as too lenient. The senator has stood by his support for legal immunity for gun manufacturers even while cheering on a lawsuit brought by family members of Sandy Hook victims against the gunmaker Remington.
During the town hall in Hartford, Clinton was joined by Erica Smegielski, whose mother, Sandy Hook principal Dawn Hochsprung, died in the mass shooting. Smegielski also appeared in an ad for Clinton.
“No more families should have to go through what we have,” Smegielski says in the spot. “Hillary Clinton is the only candidate that has what it takes to take on the gun lobby.”