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Delegate math: Clinton, Trump must wait until June 7 to clinch

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are close, but

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are close, but can't win their party nominations until the last primaries on June 7. Credit: AFP/Getty Images / DSK

Sure, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are closing in on mathematically clinching their party’s presidential nominations.

But there’s no way either one can do so until the final state primaries, June 7.

On the Democratic side, that means Clinton’s rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has at minimum achieved one small goal that many thought unlikely when the race began: staying alive throughout the entire primary process.

Clinton is just 90 delegates shy of sealing the nomination after picking up 27 delegates in Kentucky and 25 in Oregon Tuesday. Though she lost the latter to Sanders and split the former, Clinton has a huge lead of 760 delegates over Sanders.

Here is the situation for Sanders: He needs to win 89 percent of the 960 delegates still outstanding to surpass Clinton. Given that the Democratic primaries award delegates in rough proportion to a candidate’s vote total (rather than winner-take-all formats of some Republican primaries), that is virtually an impossible feat to pull off.

“I will be the nominee for my party,” Clinton, sizing up the situation, told CNN. “That is already done, in effect. There is no way I won’t be.”

Sanders’ campaign manager has talked of trying to get some superdelegates (often party insiders and elected officials) to switch their pledge from Clinton to the Vermont senator. That, too, seems like an awfully long shot.

Sanders made clear in an email to supporters Thursday he’s fighting all the way through June 7, when California, New Jersey and a few other states hold primaries.

“We have a great opportunity in California, but we have to act fast. Hundreds of thousands of Californians want to vote for our progressive agenda and a candidate who can defeat Donald Trump handily,” read a message from his campaign team to supporters.

It told recipients they still had till Monday to register to vote, and offered assistance in signing them up.

“Every state we win and vote we earn strengthens our hand in delivering that message at the convention in Philadelphia,” the Sanders campaign said.

On the Republican side, Trump still needs 77 delegates to clinch before the party’s convention in Cleveland. Because there is just one state (Washington, 44 delegates) holding a GOP primary before June 7, Trump, too, will have to campaign all the way to the finish even though all of his rivals have dropped out.

Despite quitting the campaign, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich could still win delegates in Washington state next Tuesday, officials there have said — because more than 20 percent of the state’s voters already have cast ballots through an “early voting” process. That’s an option that’s available in many states, though not in New York.

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