ground game

Clinton clinching nomination isn’t welcome news for either camp

Hillary Clinton spoke at a Get Out the Vote Rally in Los Angeles Monday.
Hillary Clinton spoke at a Get Out the Vote Rally in Los Angeles Monday.David McNew/Getty Images

From Brooklyn to Burlington, to Bakersfield and Berkeley, you could hear the collective voice of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters on Monday night, when the Associated Press declared Clinton the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, hours before polls opened for primaries in six states on Tuesday.

The siren call from both camps: “Nooooooo!”

Of course the Clinton campaign does not mind a declaration that they won a grueling, nearly 50-state process to have their candidate become the first woman in the nation’s history to be a major party’s nominee for president. That was, after all, the point.

But as Clinton’s team wraps up the final round of primary contests, they do so with the hope of ending any argument that the Sanders campaign may have to continue in the race.


Tuesday’s contest in California is pivotal to Sanders’ rationale to keep going. Polls show the primary to be a statistical tie. If Sanders wins, he might have an argument to stick around until the convention and, at the very least, use some of his capital as leverage in the party’s platform or VP pick.

But if Sanders loses California? There really is no point.

This is why Clinton’s campaign did not bask in the moment of AP’s Monday night call. They are worried that the news could depress turnout among Clinton voters who see voting in California and other states as less important.

Clinton’s campaign manager simply called the news “an important milestone” in a press release. Clinton herself didn’t declare victory, but she told supporters at a rally in Long Beach last night that they “are on the brink” of winning the nomination.

Of course, the Sanders camp was more concerned. The reason why the AP called the primary for Clinton? A superdelegate put her over the top -- not voters in a state contest.


”It is unfortunate that the media, in a rush to judgement, are ignoring the Democratic National Committee’s clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of superdelegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer,” said Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs.

It is unclear if the news will energize Sanders’ supporters at the polls -- or make them feel defeatist about it. But on Monday, before the AP called the race, Sanders told reporters in California he plans to spend some time at home in Vermont after Tuesday’s primaries to “assess” the race.

Either way, the news was not something either campaign was counting on in the hours before polls open.

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