In a decisive victory Tuesday night, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton won the California primary and clinched the nomination for the Democratic party, becoming the first female to secure a major party nomination.
Clinton reached the number of delegates required to be the presidential nominee over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the second to last Democratic primary of this election season. Multiple news sources expect her to face Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump in the general election in November.
“She has won for at least a month now and people have been pretending the race is still going on, but it really has not,” said campus political science professor Gabriel Lenz.
Supporters for Sanders had hoped he would win in California and convince members of the Democratic party that he was a strong general election candidate. Such hopes have crumbled after Tuesday’s results, however, according to campus political science professor Jack Citrin.
“There is no way he’s going to persuade super delegates to vote for him over her,” Citrin said.
Citrin added that Sanders has been incredibly successful in forcing Clinton to move her policy views to the left. He believes Sanders will continue to play an active role in influencing the position of the Democratic party.
Rigel Robinson, CalSERVE senator and founder of UC Berkeley Students for Bernie said that although Sanders was never particularly close to becoming the nominee, he was able to pull in many people who would not have voted otherwise. Robinson added that he hopes the momentum Sanders built will continue to ensure that a Democratic nominee will be elected in November.
Previous polls had predicted California to be a close primary for the Democratic candidates. As of press time, however, Clinton has won by a 13 percent margin.
Campus sophomore Courtney Brousseau said that Clinton’s victory in California got rid of the notion that she was a “weak candidate” going into the general elections. He added that it was now time for the Democratic party to unite behind Clinton and likened it to 2008, when Clinton dropped out four days after the final Democratic primary and endorsed then-senator Barack Obama.
On Monday, the Associated Press announced that Clinton had clinched the nomination by gaining the last-minute support of the remaining superdelegates. Supporters of both candidates have criticized this announcement for being “premature” and for influencing the results of Tuesday’s primary.
“I think it was a mistake, and I think it was irresponsible the night before the biggest state primary,” said Chris Yamas, CalSERVE senator and member of UC Berkeley Students for Bernie. “I certainly think that it contributed to lower turnout particularly among Sanders supporters.”
Others have argued, however, that a majority of California voters submitted their ballots by mail before the AP announcement came out and therefore would not have been influenced. Roughly 5 million of the 8 million voters expected to vote in the California state primary were expected to submit their ballots by mail, according to a study by the Field Research Corporation.
Tuesday’s primary also brought up the issue of California’s place in the primary process — it being the second to last state to vote in the primaries, despite being the largest state by population in the U.S. Earlier primary states are generally believed to have a more important role in affecting the momentum of the presidential campaigns and receive more attention from candidates.
“A lot of people I know were somewhat sad that a lot of us were casting our first ballots, and it seemed as if in the Democratic race, it didn’t feel relevant,” Brousseau said.
Haruka Senju is an assistant news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @haruka_senju