US Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton inched closer to the party nomination on Saturday, sweeping caucuses in the US Virgin Islands by winning all seven delegates at stake.
Clinton’s count of delegates, now at 2,323, leaves her only 60 short of the 2,383 she needs to clinch the nomination, which she is expected to do next week.
Puerto Rico, with 60 delegates, holds its causus on Sunday and California, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana, with nearly 700 delegates, hold theirs on Tuesday.
The US Virgin Islands are a group of islands in the Caribbean that are one of five US territories that casts votes in primaries and caucuses to decide the nominee, even though those residents aren’t eligible to vote in November.
Confident of wrapping the race to the nomination next week, Clinton has already turned her attention to the November general election in which she faces Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.
The two have been engaged in an escalating exchange of words in which they have questioned each other’s suitability for the White House in terms that have sometimes pushed the boundaries of civility.
Clinton’s only rival in the Democratic contest, Bernie Sanders, has said he is determined to stay in the race till the last vote is cast, but he has no realistic chance of being nominated.
With 1,547 delegates, close to 800 short of the 2,383 needed, his only hope — also his stated strategy —is to peel away superdelegates committed to Clinton.
In the Democratic party’s unique presidential nomination process, there is a group of electors or delegates called superdelegates who are not bound or pledged to support any candidate.
That group consists of present and past presidents and vice-presidents, elected representatives of the House of Representatives and the Senate and senior party officials.
Their number varies every election cycle — it is 712 this time. Clinton has the support of 547 of them so far, and Sanders has 46, but he believes he can change that.
At the Democratic convention in July, Sanders plans to cite poll numbers in which he does better than Clinton in head-to-head match-ups with Trump to persuade the superdelegates to pivot to him.
Unlike regular delegates elected through the nomination process who are bound to candidates who won their respective states, superdelegates can pivot, and are thus Sanders’s last hope.
It might make the convention messy, but Sanders is prepared for that. He has said several times: “It’s going to be messy… democracy is not always nice and quiet and gentle”.
But Democratic party officials don’t want the contest to last that long, because it is likely to exhaust Clinton and her resources, leaving her more vulnerable and less prepared for Trump. They have already begun urging Sanders to plan his exit strategy, privately and sometimes publicly. But the Vermont senator has shown no sign of giving up.