Clinton, Sanders win one State each

Washington,VARGHESE K. GEORGE:Hillary Clinton claimed victory in Kentucky and Bernie Sanders took Oregon in Democratic primaries on Tuesday, but the outcomes would do little to change the dynamics in the race. Ms. Clinton has a clear lead over her rival in terms of the number of delegates who will elect the party’s candidate for November’s presidential election.

Mr. Sanders did not mince words going after the Democratic leadership, following a flare-up between his supporters and the chair of the Nevada state convention of the party over the weekend. The convention itself had to be shut down by security and local police amid reports of fisticuffs on the floor. With heated exchanges between Mr. Sanders and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid over the last two days, the turbulence in the Democratic camp now appears threatening its general election prospects.

Meanwhile, a national match-up poll showed on Tuesday that Ms. Clinton is leading the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, by just three percentage points. Ms. Clinton gets 48 per cent against Mr. Trump’s 45 per cent. In their respective party bases, they have the same support—87 per cent.

Danger signals

In ‘unfavourable’ ratings, Ms. Clinton is doing better than Mr. Trump, but there are danger signals for her. In an improvement of two points over a month, 56 per cent see her unfavourably; for Mr. Trump, the unfavourable rating dropped from 65 per cent to 60 per cent and his favourable rating rose from 33 per cent to 37 per cent over the previous month.

The polls showed that Mr. Trump was rallying the Republican base more rapidly and effectively than expected; and he is climbing, rather than sliding, in terms of popularity among general election voters. That emboldens Mr. Sanders’s argument—that he is a better Democratic candidate against Mr. Trump. Mr. Sanders’s statement on the Nevada convention that had shouting matches and flying chairs was a stinging indictment of the party chair in the State and a challenge to the national leaders.

Outraged at establishment

“It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics… The Democratic Party has a choice. It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change— people who are willing to take on Wall Street, corporate greed and a fossil fuel industry which is destroying this planet,” Mr. Sanders said, in a thinly veiled attack on Ms. Clinton.

“At that convention, the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place,” Mr. Sanders said, pointing out that the chair announced the convention rules passed on voice vote. “…when the vote was a clear no-vote. At the very least, the chair should have allowed for a headcount,” Mr. Sanders said.

Mr. Reid, a Nevada leader who has endorsed Ms. Clinton and many other national leaders of the party took exception to Mr. Sanders’s statement. “Bernie should say something and not have some silly statement. Bernie is better than that. He should say something about this (the chaos at the convention) not have some statement someone else prepared for him,” Mr. Reid said.

Mr. Sanders reiterated his position that he will remain in the race until the last vote is cast. “It will be a steep climb,” he said on the possibility of winning a majority of the pledged delegates before the national convention in July. “Together we have been climbing that steep hill from day one in this campaign,” Mr. Sanders said, rejecting pleas from many Democratic supporters to bow out.

The next frontiers:

  • The next primaries are in the delegate-rich States of California and New Jersey. Hillary is ahead in poll predictions in both.
  • The delegate count is skewed in favour of Hillary due to her victory in high delegate States and the support of super-delegates.
  • Bernie Sanders is unlikely to pull out before the Democratic National Convention of June 25-28. His aim will be to persuade the super-delegates to switch support in his favour.