It will be overshadowed by Donald Trump’s sweep of states and near-sweep of delegates, and even by headlines about her “near-sweep” of four out of five states. But the bigger news on the Democratic side in the “Acela Primary” is that Hillary Clinton has augmented her already formidable lead over Bernie Sanders in pledged delegates, making a Sanders comeback that much more daunting.
The top wins for Clinton were in Pennsylvania, the largest state voting on April 26, where she won by a somewhat less-than-expected margin, and in Maryland, the second-largest state, where she won by a surprisingly wide two-to-one margin. Overall, Nate Silver estimates that she will add to her pledged-delegate lead over Sanders by more than 50, pushing it back up towards 300, meaning Sanders will have to win roughly two-thirds of the remaining delegates the rest of the way.
Yes, there are quite a few Bernie friendly jurisdictions still on the horizon in Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky (maybe), Oregon, Montana, and the Dakotas, but altogether they only award 288 pledged delegates, and as always, the Democrats’ proportional-representation rules limit gains and make playing catch-up hard. (On the above list, only North Dakota is holding a caucus, which is the format in which Sanders has run up huge margins in the past.)
So in the end, all of the preliminaries will likely be dwarfed by California, which will award 475 pledged delegates on June 7. Clinton has led in every published poll of the Golden State, and it seems most unlikely she will be crushed there. The only hopeful factor for Sanders and his fans is that we are still dealing in probabilities rather than certainties, but the light at the end of the tunnel is looking as red as the setting sun over the Pacific.