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So it’s Trump vs Clinton. What happens now?

For all Hillary Clinton's weaknesses, Donald Trump is close to the dream opponent, says Jonathan Jones. 

By jonathan Jones

Having vanquished one septuagenarian populist with a brash New York accent, Hillary Clinton can now focus entirely on beating another in November.

Clinton’s delegate haul from last night’s six Democratic contests guaranteed her a majority of elected delegates at the convention: she has now won 2,203, out of the 4,051 available in total (including the 20 up for grabs in DC next week). Adding on the 571 superdelegates who’ve said they’ll vote for her takes Clinton well past the 2,383 needed to clinch the nomination. She is now officially the presumptive nominee.

Although Sanders has done better than expected and lasted longer than Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination, the Democratic primary has never been that close. Clinton won 28 of the 50 states, including 13 of the largest 15. She’s secured 3.7 million more votes than Sanders and 376 more elected delegates.

Of course, Bernie Sanders can fight on to the convention next month if he chooses – and last night he promised to do just that. Technically, he could become the nominee if the overwhelming majority of superdelegates voted for him. Superdelegates are the 712 Governors, members of Congress, state party chairs, former presidents and other party grandees who can vote however they choose at the convention, unbound by the votes cast in the primaries and caucuses. Sanders would need more than 500 of these to vote for him in order to overturn Clinton’s lead in elected delegates – that would mean winning over not only those who’ve yet to decide, but also nearly 400 of those who’ve already backed Clinton. It’s safe to say that isn’t going to happen.

As she turns her full attention to the general election, Clinton leads Donald Trump nationally by about five points in the Huffington Post’s polling aggregate and two in RealClearPolitics’ average. Though both candidates’ favourability ratings are poor by historical standards, Clinton’s net -15 is better than Trump’s -21.

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Clinton will be hoping to see her ratings improve following her securing the nomination, as Obama’s did in 2008, Romney’s did in 2012 and Trump’s have in the last few weeks. Now the primaries are over, we can expect at least some of the Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who’ve been supporting Sanders and have been sceptical of Clinton to come around to her. As Nate Silver has said, winning over those voters could be worth a percent or two for Clinton against Trump.

On the Republican side, the way so much of the party elite has fallen into line behind The Donald is surprising, especially given some of their previous comments about him. Trump’s endorsers now include: former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who last year described him as “a cancer on conservatism”; former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who labelled him an “egomaniacal madman”; Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who called him “a delusional narcissist and an orange-faced windbag”; and even Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who says he’s now apologised to Trump for attacking his most sensitive area: his tiny, tiny hands. Among the relatively few holdouts are the Bushes; Mitt Romney; New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez; Trump’s final two opponents, Ted Cruz and John Kasich; and Senators Lindsey Graham, Mark Kirk, and Ben Sasse.

And Republican voters seem to have fallen in line in much the same way. Though the majority of Republican primary voters voted for someone other than Trump, 85 per cent of Republicans now say they’ll support him in November. It’s a demonstration of the power of winning the nomination, and Republican antipathy towards Hillary Clinton. Fortunately for the world, Hillary will have much the same forces working for her on the Democratic side.

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