The two presumptive presidential nominees for the Republican and Democratic parties had a big night Tuesday. Running unopposed, Trump swept all 5 Republican contests to add more delegates to his total count, while Hillary Clinton won 4 of the 6 (CA, NJ, NM, and SD) Democratic contests.
The big prize of the night, California, went to Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. While some polls showed a close race between Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton garnered 55.9% of the vote to Sanders’ 43.2%.
“Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” Clinton said during her victory speech. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person — it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”
It was the first election in many years that Californians were able to play a significant role in the outcome of the presidential primaries of the two major parties. Trump, who reportedly locked up the Republican nomination on May 26, garnered over three-quarters of the vote, taking 172 bound delegates.
However, with 475 pledged delegates at stake on the Democratic side, California was a must win in the hotly contested race between Clinton and Sanders.
Independent voters have helped propel Sanders to major victories in states with open primary elections and rules that allow unaffiliated voters to participate. However, though these voters (called No Party Preference voters in California) could participate in the Democratic presidential primary in California, Sanders could not close the gap between him and Clinton.
California uses a nonpartisan, top-two open primary for all statewide races, except presidential. The state maintains a semi-closed presidential primary that allows parties to decide whether or not to allow independent voters to participate and is full of rules and restrictions that some voters claim are confusing.
A team of civil rights attorneys filed suit in federal court weeks before the primary, claiming that some counties failed to inform voters of the extent of their right to vote in the presidential primaries and the options available to them. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ attempt to reopen voter registration past the May 23 registration deadline.
The Associated Press sparked further outrage among many voters online Monday when it officially declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee, mere hours before millions of voters had a chance to cast their ballot. It is not clear what impact this might have had on turnout.
While Clinton celebrated being crowned the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party Tuesday night, Sanders vowed to continue fighting on to the Democratic National Convention in July after picking up wins in Montana and North Dakota.
“Next Tuesday, we continue the fight,” he said before a crowd of supporters. “We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington D.C., and then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia.”
Sanders alluded to the Washington, D.C. Democratic Caucus, which will occur on June 14, and will be the last contest before the national convention. For now, however, it seems likely that the presumptive nominees for the Republican and Democratic parties, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, are going to be on the November ballot.