Bernie Sanders is pushing back against media reports that Hillary Clinton will claim victory as the presumptive nominee in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, after the New Jersey primary and before the polls close in California. “There will be a contested convention,” says Sanders. Neither candidate will have an outright majority of all delegates, both pledged (those selected in primaries and caucuses) and the super-delegates (party officials who also have a vote as a delegate to the convention).
After DC’S primary next week, however, it won’t really matter that Sanders wants to fight out his campaign on the convention floor. Why? Clinton will have roughly 54% of the pledged delegates and her raw vote total through the process will exceed Sanders’ by roughly three million votes. The voters spoke, and they wanted Clinton by a sound margin. Sanders is technically correct — the super-delegates don’t vote until the convention so his campaign can argue that it’s not over — but after next week, the media will have moved on. They will label Clinton the “presumptive nominee,” the president will strongly endorse her as his successor, and the general election will effectively begin, assuming Clinton’s foreign policy speech didn’t already signal its start.
The question facing Sanders is if he ends his campaign on his terms when he still has a modicum of control, or if he lets events overtake him (Obama’s inevitable endorsement of Clinton, the media) that effectively end his campaign for him. It’s the choice between ending it with maturity or with petulance. At the moment, he appears to be choosing petulance. How he chooses to end his campaign will shape the legacy of his campaign and his movement.