Frontrunners seize the day

The Empire State has smiled upon its own. In Tuesday’s primary elections, > New York yielded rich bounties to Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and also to Republican property billionaire Donald Trump. Both were already frontrunners in the race to win their party’s nominations for the November 2016 presidential election, going by the number of delegates each had garnered. In sweeping New York, both candidates have consolidated their leads over their nearest rivals and set themselves up for victory in the July conventions in Philadelphia and Cleveland, respectively. Ms. Clinton, who has led by a sizeable margin over her only Democratic rival, self-described socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, sprinted to the finish line in the state that she represented in the U.S. Senate for eight years from January 2001. Of the 247 delegates available for the taking, she scooped up 135 and won 57.9 per cent of the vote. Mr. Sanders managed to win 104 delegates after getting 42.1 per cent of the vote, but he now faces an increasingly uphill road to the nomination with 19 states still to hold their primaries or caucuses, and 1,692 delegates remaining. To seal his nomination Mr. Sanders would have to win 71 per cent of these outstanding delegates, a prospect that is not necessarily impossible given his seven straight victories prior to New York. However, to achieve that he would need a major national-level popularity surge that could offset Ms. Clinton’s overwhelming lead with super delegates, or “unpledged” party heavyweights who can cast a vote in favour of any candidate of their choosing at the convention.

The broader lesson is simple: ensure that you are the darling of the party mainstream and you will go much farther in the delegate count than if you are a maverick with an ideological plinth that challenges the rugged individualism and unbridled excesses of Wall Street capitalism that so many in America instinctively veer towards. The battle for the Grand Old Party’s nomination is the perfect mirror image of the Democratic experience. The maverick in this case is frontrunner Mr. Trump, the plain-speaking casino owner who has made disparaging remarks that have > offended a variety of minorities including Muslims, Mexicans, women, and the differently-abled. After his resounding victory in New York, Mr. Trump holds at least 845 delegates against his nearest rival Senator Ted Cruz’s 559. However, the GOP’s deep disenchantment with Mr. Trump’s campaign, not to mention the prediction by nationwide polls that he would fare less well against Ms. Clinton than Mr. Cruz would, implies that a “contested convention” could be on the cards. This will happen if Mr. Trump fails to snatch 1,237 delegates, the minimum necessary to secure the nomination. In effect, a potentially chaotic nomination process could engender a political crisis that would pit the GOP leadership not only against Mr. Trump, but also against the millions who voted for him this year.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 5:22:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/Frontrunners-seize-the-day/article14247759.ece

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