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Clinton on brink of Dem nomination; Trump strengthens path

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton both

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton both celebrated their New York primary victories Tuesday night. Credit: AP (2)

The mathematical path to the Democratic presidential nomination looks a lot easier for Hillary Clinton, one day after her big win in New York.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump’s task is tougher. Even after his easy home state victory, the GOP front-runner must continue to win in upcoming states that pose challenges to him, such as Indiana, if he is to win enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination and avoid a fight at the party convention.

“Any time he wins he improves his chances,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist. But despite Trump’s big victory in New York, “it’s going to be close,” Madden said.

Trump won at least 89 of the 95 Republican delegates that were at stake in the New York primary Tuesday, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich won four. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) got none. Delegates in two congressional districts will be determined by absentee ballots.

Trump now has 845 delegates but must get to 1,237 to clinch it. He has won 47 percent of the delegates so far — but must get 57 percent of the remaining ones to get to 1,237.

Cruz has 559 and is all but eliminated mathematically, and Kasich, with just 147, is. The two are staying in the race with the goal of blocking Trump from clinching and instead forcing a brokered convention.

In the Democratic race, Clinton beat Sanders 58 percent to 42 percent in New York, a victory she called “personal.” The win gives her a huge lead in the delegate chase: 1,930 to 1,189 for Sanders, including superdelegates.

That gives her a chance to nail down the nomination even before the June 7 California primary, which Sanders hopes to win. Now, Sanders faces a long-shot task: He must win 73 percent of the remaining delegates to get the nomination.

“Bernie Sanders went into the New York Democratic primary with essentially no path to catching Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he leaves it with even less of one after Clinton’s victory,” University of Virginia political scientists Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley wrote on their “Crystal Ball” blog that tracks the campaign.

“Despite some national polls showing the race effectively a tie, Clinton has a lead in pledged delegates and superdelegates that Sanders cannot catch,” Kondik and Skelley said.

The Democratic race is at a point where Clinton supporters can call for unity and urge the Sanders’ supporters to begin thinking about joining forces to win in November, said Matt Hale, a Seton Hall University political scientist. Clinton signaled a switch to that approach in her speech after the primary Tuesday night, saying “the homestretch and victory is in sight.”

That said, Hale doesn’t think Sanders is anywhere near conceding.

“He has repeatedly said this is a revolution,” Hale said, “and you don’t quit the revolution.”

Sanders went home to Vermont Wednesday to “recharge.” But, in a fundraising email to supporters, he said: “We believe we have the momentum and we believe we have a path toward victory.”

The race stays on the East Coast for the next week. Trump is expected to do well in the five states that hold contests Tuesday: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. Cruz should again face a tough time winning significant votes in the region. Kasich is viewed as having a slightly better chance to pick up more delegates.

But their best opportunities likely will occur in the weeks ahead as the race moves to states such as West Virginia, Nebraska and Indiana.

“One key question mark will be Indiana,” said Madden, communications director for Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. “Is it going to be like Michigan, where Trump did well? Or is it going to be like Wisconsin, where a lot of evangelicals and core conservatives were turned off” by Trump and backed Cruz?

Indiana, on May 3, is a winner-take-all state in the Republican primary, awarding its delegates on a statewide and congressional-district-by-congressional-district basis. Cruz has been setting his sites on lining up delegates in Pennsylvania — where most delegates aren’t bound by the results of the primary — and Indiana.

“Nobody’s getting 1,237,” Cruz said while campaigning Wednesday. “Donald knows that. We’re headed to a contested convention.”

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