Hillary Clinton won Tuesday's California primary — a victory that will only increase pressure on Bernie Sanders to concede that he has lost the race.
California was called for Clinton at around 6:30 am by the Associated Press and CBS News.
Clinton was on track to win the Democratic nomination with or without California. She has enough votes, pledged delegates, and superdelegates to coast to the nomination in Philadelphia this July, and declared victory after the New Jersey primary last night.
Still, California is the exclamation point Clinton wanted to make her nomination clear beyond a doubt. Her win in the state will bolster the argument that she won the race as the popular Democratic candidate — and make it harder for Sanders to contest the outcome all the way to Philadelphia.
This didn't matter for the race overall. But it's a win Clinton will be glad to have.
As late as April, initial polling had Clinton ahead by more than 40 points in California. Given her earlier strength among Latino voters, it seemed that Sanders's campaign would meet its end there regardless of how well he did elsewhere.
"Clinton is leading in California because she's preferred over Sanders by majorities of women, minorities, registered Democrats, Northern California residents and people 40 and older, the poll shows," the Mercury News wrote in January.
But the polls narrowed dramatically over the course of the primary, forcing Clinton to spend time and resources in California long after she would have preferred to turn to the general election.
While her nomination was never in doubt, some feared losing the biggest state the would make her look like a weak nominee — and give Donald Trump a line of attack.
"It would spark another round of unflattering headlines and plenty of more handwringing by nervous Democrats," wrote Slate's Josh Voorhees about a potential Clinton loss in California. "It would also give Sanders extra motivation — and justification — to take his quixotic fight the whole way to the floor of the Democratic National Convention in July, which would prevent the party from unifying for another two months and could even fracture it further."
Others argued that a win in California would give Sanders not just a symbolic victory, but also bargaining power for elevating his position at the convention. And maybe Voorhees is right that winning California would have made some Sanders supporters feel emboldened to continue fighting after the vote is over.
Of course, we'll never know the counterfactual. And Clinton is going to be just fine with that.