With the California primary election looming Tuesday, it is still unclear which Democratic candidate will win one of the largest states' 475 delegates. To hear Hillary Clinton tell it, she's on the verge of beating Bernie Sanders in the Golden State and beyond, but the Vermont senator has told supporters that they're gaining ground, and stand a strong chance of cinching the primaries.
In the past few days, Mrs. Clinton has traveled the state in hopes of winning over the the delegates she needs in order to exceed 2,383 and get the nomination. "I'm very proud of the campaign we're running here, and I believe, on Tuesday, I will have decisively won the popular vote and I will have decisively won the pledged delegate majority," she said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Senator Sanders' campaign, however, protests that delegate math and money don't tell the whole story. He's not ready to back down — especially with the strong coalition of supporters he has in California.
"It is extremely unlikely that Secretary Clinton will have the requisite number of pledged delegates to claim victory on Tuesday night," Sanders told reporters in Los Angeles on Saturday, according to CNN. "At the end of the nominating process, no candidate will have enough pledged delegates to call the campaign a victory. That will be dependent upon superdelegates. In other words, the Democratic National Convention will be a contested convention."
Some Clinton fans, in particular, fear the continued intra-party fight will risk Democrats' unity ahead of the general election, leaving them vulnerable against presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump. Even if Clinton wins the nomination, part of her energy will need to go towards wooing "Bernie or Bust" supporters, instead of focusing on existing Trump voters alone.
Twenty-five percent of Sanders supporters said they would not vote for Clinton in the general election if she were the nominee against Trump, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. The "Bernie or Bust" movement may be even stronger in California, where the USC Dornsife/LA Times poll indicated that Clinton lagged behind Sanders 43 percent to 44 percent among registered voters. Only 65 percent of those who are voting Sanders in the California primary said they would definitely support Clinton in the case of a Clinton-Trump face off.
After Puerto Rico's primary on Sunday, Clinton holds 1,809 delegates and 548 superdelegates, for a total of 2,357. Winning the nomination calls for at least 2,382. During the Democratic primaries on Tuesday (when party voters head to the polls in California, New Jersey, the Dakotas, Montana, and New Mexico) 694 delegates, including 475 delegates in California, will be at stake.
Sanders also swept through California this past weekend, verbally attacking Trump, but also telling supporters the Democratic game wasn't over. If they turn out in force on Tuesday, he said, he'll be in a stronger position to capture superdelegates.
"If we can win, and win big here in California and in the other states, and in Washington D.C., we are going to go into the Democratic convention with enormous momentum," Sanders told listeners during a rally outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. "With your help, I believe, we will come out with the nomination."