Front runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won big in New York last Tuesday and they are poised for yet another big night. Trump and Clinton are set to edge ever closer to their respective presidential nominations.
Voters in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will head to the polls today for the “Acela primary,” with one of the biggest total of delegates up for grabs on both the Republican and Democratic sides of the race. The nickname for the day comes from the high-speed Amtrak train that runs between Washington and Boston, much traveled by those heading to cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York ending in Washington, D.C.
Clinton and Trump look strong heading into Pennsylvania, the biggest prize of the night, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. Trump leads the Republican field among likely Republican voters with 45% support compared to Ted Cruz’s 27% and John Kasich’s 24%. And Clinton is beating Bernie Sanders 55%-40% among likely Democratic voters.
Even though Texas Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are working hard to keep Trump from 1,237 and a first ballot win. The duo are staying out of the other’s way in states going forward after tonight’s five state showdown.
But the problem with the Cruz-Kasich duo can’t stop Trump if he sweeps tonight’s five states then the nomination is well within his grasp.
Trump currently has about 845 delegates and needs fewer than 400 to clear the 1,237 hurdle needed to win the GOP nomination on the first ballot. Meanwhile, Clinton is a lot closer to closing down her nominating battle than Trump. If the big win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in New York state last week was the beginning of the end of the Democratic fight, the Acela primary might be the end of the end.
She leads in all five states that vote Tuesday although in Connecticut (although Sanders Sandy Hook problem could push Clinton over the top.) and Rhode Island she’s only ahead by single digits. But the two big delegate rich states, Pennsylvania and Maryland are going to be locks for Clinton.
Plus, since the Democrats dole out their delegates proportionally which makes it very hard to catch up to the front-runner. The Clinton campaign is increasingly turning its attention to a general election matchup with Trump.
Sanders big problem is that today Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Rhode Island — are closed to anyone not registered as a Democrat. Sanders has done better in states where unaffiliated voters can participate. After today there are only a handful of contests left. The only really big state left is California, but even a big win there wouldn’t be enough to close the gap. Still, Sanders aides say they see a path to the nomination and plan on a huge victory in California on June 7.
So, even if it is a big night for Clinton and Trump they will be closer to their party’s nomination but their battles will continue. At least for a while as their challengers seem unlikely to take their battles all the way to to the GOP and Democratic conventions.