Politics

Trump, Clinton, and their inability to pivot to the general election

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press (left); Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton officially become odds-on favorites to be their respective parties’ presidential nominees nine days ago, but both, it seems, have been unable to pivot the discussion to the potential general election.

Their problem: pesky primary rivals that just won’t go away.

While Trump and Clinton are certainly winning the perception that they will be facing off against each other this fall, neither looks 100 percent inevitable. Voters in different caucus and primary states seem to be telling them: slow down.

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Indeed, after both won the first three out of four early states, followed by great Super Tuesday wins, both have lost a number of states.

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While Clinton appears to have the delegate math on her side, her rival, Bernie Sanders, has so much money he can stay in the race until the end. (With his win in Michigan this week he also has the political backing to stay in.)

The opposite is true for Trump. He is the one with endless pockets of money -- just ask him -- but the math suggests it will be hard for him to put away the nomination until the very end, if not the convention.

This primary slog, which will continue for more than a month, means both Trump and Clinton are focused on their party rivals and not each other. In the two Democratic debates this week, Clinton came out gunning for Sanders, particularly on the auto bailout and immigration reform. As for Trump, he is up on the air with his first attack ad, which hits Marco Rubio.

The general election will get started soon enough, but not this soon.

James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell. Click here to subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign.