The signs in the electoral stars now seem clear: In a few months Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face off against each other as candidates for the United States presidential elections. Both of them have decisively won seven out of the 11 states that held primaries on the so-called Super Tuesday — when more such contests are held than any other day in the electoral contest. Super Tuesday is generally the most decisive milestone in the road that eventually takes the US to its presidential election day in November.
Yet, of the two, Ms Clinton is by far the more decisive. This is largely because the Democratic race is already down to just two candidates. Super Tuesday showed that her support among minority voters has remained intact. Bernie Sanders has been undone by his inability to break into the black and Hispanic vote. Mr Trump is fighting in a more crowded field and, theoretically, if all the votes of the other Republican candidates were to coalesce around a single individual that person would easily sweep the remaining primaries. But, for the time being, the four other candidates insist they will remain in the race. Definitely, the two other leading candidates, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, have little reason to drop out at this point. The Republican race will remain volatile for at least another month. The Democratic one is now an academic exercise.
Ms Clinton will now increasingly have to face the voter disaffection that allowed two mavericks, an independent socialist like Mr Sanders and a loud-mouthed real estate developer like Mr Trump, to surprise pundits and pollsters alike. These two candidates have proven to be lightning rods for blue collar workers and youth who have turned against establishment politics. Ms Clinton has terribly negative ratings among such groups. Her support base remains people of colour, the elderly and professional suburban whites. Winning over the other segments of society will be crucial to her chances of victory — but it is not yet certain she has the ability to bridge that gap. That is why national-level matchup polls between her and Mr Trump put her only a few points ahead. Increasingly for the Democrats this is going to be about how to sell Ms Clinton to an unusually polarised and cynical American electorate. That process has just begun and may prove more difficult than anyone had expected, least of all Ms Clinton herself.