Tuesday proved to be a red letter day for Hillary Clinton, who won her home state in a narrow victory over rival Bernie Sanders in the Illinois primary. Already, the frontrunner for the nomination, this win increases her delegate count to 68, while Sanders gets 67.
While polls closed at 7:00 p.m. Central Time, the votes were still being counted well after 11:00 p.m, to the accompanying cheers of HILLARY by her supporters. Cheers aside, this victory allows Clinton to stop reacting to Sanders, and instead respond more fully to the Republicans, in the person of Donald Trump, their presumed nominee.
Sanders while remaining optimistic still has a long way to go to beat Clinton who now has 1,606 delegates, which includes 467 super delegates, contrasted with his 851, that includes 26 superdelegates. Earlier forecasts had him taking both Illinois and Missouri as he wends his way to delegate rich California, but now that seems more hope than promise. Nevertheless as long as he receives support, he will press on, much like Clinton in 2008, unless the numbers reveal his weakness.
Adding to her win in Illinois, Clinton has taken Florida, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, the latter a traditional, and vital battleground state. “in recent elections due to the closeness of the vote and its wealth of electoral votes (currently 18). Recently, the Buckeye State “has proved itself to be a remarkably good predictor of the election winner. Since 1944, Ohioans have sided with the losing candidate only once – opting for Nixon over Kennedy in 1960,” claim political historians.
History has shown the detail: 2012 was again close, as Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 3 points, 51 percent to 48 percent. But, there are also outliers as when John Kennedy won the general election without winning the Ohio primary. Clinton can justifiably rest on her laurels, if she does capture the nomination, which the numbers are clearly showing her strong lead.
For Donald Trump his victory gives him the numerical advantage as he also swept through Florida, casting Marco Rubio aside, so now it is just he and Ted Cruz as the leaders, with John Kasich, and his Ohio win, trailing behind.
Many observers do not feel that his securing the Republican nomination is inevitable, but by adding an additional 51 delegates to a strong hand, is nothing to dismiss. Yet, old-school television journalists like Bob Schieffer, quoting statistics from Ohio, cited Republicans there claiming that 30 percent of voters would not vote for Trump and and 41 percent would favor an independent candidate. There are also rumors, not only from Schieffer, that Paul Ryan might be offered as a candidate, in the midst of a brokered convention.
Meanwhile Trump, using his by now reliable adjective “amazing” to describe his wins, has taken on a more mainstream tone, and most importantly, in his victory speech Tuesday night he intoned the names of party establishment figures such as Mitch McConnell, Chris Christie, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, another top Republican.
With their imprimatur, he is positioning himself for the general election. This is especially significant coming on the heels of sporadic violent encounters between his supporters who he claims are Sanders supporters as the instigators, a charge that the senator has denied. Trump also has also retrenched on claims that he would pay the legal fees of the aggressors who are his supporters.
Trump has also grasped party unity, and taken a part of the Sanders playbook by trashing trade agreements such as NAFTA and TPP to gain even more support from white working class voters who claim those agreements as anathema. As he said, “We’re going to do so good.”
In what, to many was a disingenuous moment, he derided the negative ads, directed at him; but which most observers have valued as free publicity for the real estate mogul. valued at $400 million by the New York Times, Trump has spent far less of his own money, and depended on what is called “earned media.”
The biggest loser on Tuesday was Marco Rubio, who not only lost his own state, but saw his delegate numbers dropping. He joined the ranks of Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie and Ben Carson, in announcing the suspension of his campaign, to the anguished wail of a female supporter, who cried, “Oh, no!.” Her keening aside, it was clearly curtains for the 44 year old, as continuing would have been a foolhardy enterprise.
One winner, albeit, to his own state, was John Kasich, of Ohio, who as the only self-described adult in the early, more fractious debates, gave a steady show of strength to his supporters. But, most observers see this as more of a Hail Mary pass, than a fourth quarter touchdown..
For Chicagoans, who also voted for U.S. representatives, and senators, the most contentious and surprising, to some, was the decimation of State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Her delay in the conviction of policeman Jason Van Dyke in the Laquan McDonald shooting, made her low hanging fruit for her opponents. On Tuesday she lost to Kim Foxx, by 58 votes to her 29, with 13 going to the other rival, Donna More, who got 13 percent.
The McDonald case cast a national spotlight on Alvarez and a long and sad persecution of African American men, be they perpetrators, or not. With many incarcerated for low level crimes, Alvarez, her critics claimed, was more concerned with the appearances of her judgment, and less of equal and just enforcement of the law.
Foxx, who was chief of staff for the powerful Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, got not only her powerful support, and that of the Chicago black community; but in an area noted for racial segregation, received more of the total vote in the white suburbs than Alvarez and More combined.
In her victory speech, the soft-spoken Foxx noted, amid the cheers, that “a page has turned,”:meaning a move towards both lawful and effective justice. She said, “that the fragility of our criminal justice system was felt across the county. So whether you live south or north or west, people were ready for change.”