What will California’s impact be on the Democratic Presidential campaign?

By Dave Andrusko

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

While both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are their respective party’s “presumptive” presidential nominee, it is only the former Secretary of State who has to worry about next week’s mammoth California primary. Indeed, NBC News’s “First Read” headlined its story, “Why Hillary Clinton Needs to Win California.”

How can Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Carrie Dann possibly say that when the former Secretary of State is all but mathematically assured of having enough delegates when Democrats come together in Philadelphia, July 25–28?

But here’s the reason why Clinton needs to beat Sanders in California next week: She doesn’t want to give him any legitimate rationale to remain in the race beyond June 7 or June 14 (the final primary in DC). Why? Because as our colleague Dante Chinni writes, the moment Sanders exits the race, her poll numbers against Trump will increase.

And while the additional numbers “First Read” assumes Clinton will accrue once Sanders is out are questionable, even if they are inflated, it would provide a psychological boost to a campaign plagued with doubt.

But, of course, this assumes Sanders will drop out after California (June 7) or June 14 (the final primary in Washington, DC). Yet is there anything that has happened, especially over the last few weeks, that suggests the Democratic Socialist senator from Vermont will go away once Clinton has the necessary 2,383 delegates? (She is currently short only 72 delegates.)

“First Read” offers a rationale (a thinly disguised hope) for Sanders to exit if he loses in California:

[A] loss in the Golden State would leave him without any legitimate rationale to flip superdelegates, especially when he trails in pledged delegates and the popular vote. And Sanders even acknowledged that reality on “Meet”: “Obviously, if we don’t do well in California, it will make our path much, much harder. No question about it,” he said.

One other point. While Clinton is ahead in California polls, the margin dropped, as the Los Angeles Times explained. For some reason, however, the Times’ Seema Mehta doesn’t mention the Public Policy Institute of California poll, which, while an outlier, shows Clinton up only two points.

More over the next six days.