Hillary's Big State Dominance Is the Key To the Democratic Nomination

Hillary Clinton's very impressive New York primary victory over Bernie Sanders points up some of her most significant strengths as a political figure. She generally performs quite well on a big stage. And there are few bigger presidential primary stages than that of New York.

Clinton's latest victory was her seventh in eight primaries so far among the 10 most populous states in the Union.

Oddly, there is little if any media focus on the campaign dynamic that accounts for her tightening grip on the Democratic presidential nomination. For it is clearly Hillary's near across-the-board strength in big state primaries that accounts for her dominant 2.7 million vote lead in the Democratic popular vote over Sanders and her commanding lead of nearly 280 in pledged delegates won in primary elections and caucuses.

Those leads, essentially insurmountable at this point, are buttressed by Clinton's overwhelming 502-38 lead in support among party leader "super-delegates." If there were no super-delegates, Clinton would be on a relatively easy course to winning the convention majority well before the convention.

Ironically, it's only because there are now so many super-delegates, more than in my day in these campaigns, that the Sanders campaign is able to argue that Clinton can only win with super-delegate votes. No super-delegates, clearcut Hillary Clinton victory. Which is the exact opposite of the impression many prefer to create.

When you look at the big picture of the big 10 states, Hillary's overall lead is anything but surprising.

She has beaten Sanders in New York, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina. Only in Michigan, among the nation's 10 most populous states, did Sanders prevail. And then only by a 2-percentage point margin, less than 20,000 votes. Of Hillary's seven victories out of eight in the top 10 primaries so far, all but one was by a blow-out margin.

In fact, those seven big state primary victories account for 2 million popular votes in her 2.7 million popular vote advantage over Sanders.

For all his great success in turning on the young generation of voters, drawing large and enthusiastic crowds, mainstreaming democratic socialism, and raising incredible amounts of money from millions of small donors, Sanders is as competitive as he has been primarily due to his strength in small-turnout, activist-dominated caucuses.

What is it that has enabled Hillary Clinton to dominate the biggest contests that have dominated the Democratic presidential race, even though she is now being routinely out-spent by the Sanders online financial bonanza?

Well, for starters, like Barack Obama, she knows how to appeal to diverse constituencies, including those of ethnicity and gender. Her policy views have shifted to the left -- back toward what appear to have been her old views when she first entered politics, as it happens -- following most Democratic voters in a progressivization of the electorate in the new globalized environment. She is part of a very powerful brand in American politics. She is very knowledgeable and experienced, a steady and effective if hardly scintillating performer on a large and demanding stage. And she is someone who tends to rise to the occasion.

Though Sanders has dominated most of the caucus states, which play to his strength amongst the most fervent voters, let's not forget that there were two caucus states that Hillary had to win in order to keep the shape of the race in her ultimate favor.

Those caucus states were Iowa, the first-in-the-nation contest, and Nevada, third in the nation. Both back in February. She won them both. Barely. But she did win.

As I wrote at the time, especially when I first reported that Nevada was falling rapidly within his grasp, had Sanders won either Iowa or Nevada, the race would turn dramatically in his direction. That was especially so if he won both.

Sanders can't say that the nomination was never within reach.

But it did not materialize. Now Sanders must hope for a near total collapse on Clinton's part. And, if we've learned anything about Hillary Clinton over the years, she is not someone who wilts under pressure.

Sanders would have to start winning the few remaining big state primaries to have even a prayer of convincing super-delegates to switch to him. And next week looks likely to bring more Sanders defeats in such contests, as Hillary leads by double digits in Pennsylvania, the second to last primary among the 10 biggest states, and in Maryland, a top 20 state in population.

Sanders may win some more smaller states going forward, and he trails by only single digits in the biggest prize of all, California, still a month and a half away. But as old friends Gary Hart and Jerry Brown can attest, winning the California primary hardly guarantees the Democratic presidential nomination.

Still, Sanders can win the California primary, an important showing, and I'm planning to vote for him in it.

For Sanders is about expanding the index of possibility with regard to economic and social justice and a sustainable future for the planet.

That's worthy of respect and support, notwithstanding any disagreement on policy particulars.

And, while Hillary Clinton has many admirable qualities -- her election this fall will be very important, especially given the horrifying dynamics in the once Grand Old Party -- it's good to maintain some pressure. As longtime readers know, I've not infrequently disagreed with Hillary on geopolitics and other matters. And even her hero Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to be pressured.

Facebook comments are closed on this article.