Clinton Wins Final ‘Super Tuesday’ Of 2016, Claims Victory In Nomination Fight

Hillary Clinton won the final Super Tuesday of the 2016 primary season, thus officially sending us into what promises to be among the most contentious General Election battles in recent memory.

On what was effectively the final night of the 2016 primary season, Hillary Clinton pulled off wins in four of the six states being contested, including a victory in California that saves her campaign from some small embarrassment, Hillary Clinton claimed victory in a quest she began nearly a decade ago and pivoted toward a General Election campaign that promises to be among the most vitriolic and contentious in recent memory:

Hillary Clinton claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night after decisive victories in the California, New Jersey and New Mexico primaries, and she quickly appealed to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to unite with her against Donald J. Trump.

The Associated Press reported early Wednesday that Mrs. Clinton had won California, but Mr. Sanders gave no indication that he would yield, insisting earlier that he would continue his campaign and barely acknowledging her achievement.

With the 14-month Democratic race nearing a close, Mrs. Clinton savored the biggest night of her extraordinary journey from lawyer, wife and first lady to senator, secretary of state and, now, the first woman to win a major party’s nomination. At a rally in Brooklyn, she took the stage with her hands clasped over her heart in gratitude, then threw open her arms in joy and savored a long moment as a jubilant crowd waved American flags and chanted “Hillary.”

Reaching for history, Mrs. Clinton pledged to build on the achievements of pioneers like the 19th-century leaders at Seneca Falls, N.Y., who began the fight for women’s rights in America.

“Tonight caps an amazing journey — a long, long journey,” she said, nearly a century after women won the right to vote nationwide. “We all owe so much to those who came before, and tonight belongs to all of you.”

As six states voted on Tuesday, Mr. Sanders’s political lifeline frayed with each loss. He was left hoping for a long-shot victory in the California primary, where Mrs. Clinton held a wide lead, to justify staying in the race and lobbying Democratic officials to support him in a contested convention next month.

In a speech in Santa Monica, Calif., late Tuesday night that felt much like a valedictory, Mr. Sanders told supporters he was determined to stop Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, from winning the presidency. Yet he spoke of their cause as much larger than his candidacy. “You all know that it is more than Bernie — it is all of us together,” he said.

He vowed to “fight hard to win” the final primary, in the District of Columbia next week, and to continue “our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice” at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

But he also recognized cold political reality. “I am pretty good in arithmetic, and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight,” he said. “But we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get.”

While Mr. Sanders noticeably ignored Mrs. Clinton’s triumph, only crediting “her victories tonight,” she lavished praise on him earlier at her Brooklyn rally. She said their “vigorous debate” had been “very good for theDemocratic Party and America.”

Mr. Sanders won the North Dakota caucuses and the Montana primary, while Mrs. Clinton won the South Dakota primary. Republicans also voted in several states.

More from The Washington Post:

NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton laid claim to the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, making a full pivot to a nasty general-election fight against Donald Trump as she prevailed in a vigorously contested primary in California against Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Clinton, the first woman chosen as the standard-bearer of a major American political party, celebrated the occasion with a forward-looking address to supporters in Brooklyn, not far from her campaign headquarters and just a few miles from New Jersey — where she defeated Sanders in the first of six states voting Tuesday.

Although Clinton unofficially clinched the nomination the previous evening, she embraced the historic nature of her bid at her victory celebration Tuesday, debuting a video that placed her within the tradition of “women of the world who have blazed new paths.”

Basking in a moment eight years in the making, Clinton took the stage with her hands clasped to her heart as supporters cheered and screamed. She took her time walking through the crowd to the lectern, shaking the hands of her exuberant supporters.

“Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” Clinton said. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person — it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

Clinton won easily in the New Jersey primary and held off a robust challenge from Sanders in California, the nation’s most populous state, where voters also had their say Tuesday.

Clinton had sought to avert a loss there with nearly a week of intensive campaigning. As the country’s most diverse state, and a wellspring of Democratic support and campaign cash, California was a symbolic but important final test of Clinton’s strength as a communicator and candidate.

The contests in the six states came on a busy day following Clinton’s abrupt clinching of the nomination Monday night because of a revised delegate count by the Associated Press.

n the wake of that milestone, party elders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), stepped up efforts to unify Democrats for the fall, and a spokesman for President Obama indicated that he was eager to help broker peace between Clinton and Sanders and start campaigning for the party’s nominee. Obama called both candidates Tuesday night and will meet with Sanders on Thursday, the White House said late Tuesday.

“Bernie knows better than anyone what’s on the line in the election and that we at some point have to unify as we go forward,” Pelosi said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “He wants to influence the platform. I think that’s fine.”

In the end, the final night of the campaign went about as expected, with Clinton scoring decisive victories in New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders picked up wins in North Dakota and Montana.  The biggest prize of the night, though, was the biggest state in the Union, California. For the past week or more Bernie Sanders was barnstorming the Golden State in the hope that he could pull off a come from behind victory that he could then use to bolster his at this point quixotic campaign, which by this week seemed to depend largely on the laughable proposition that he’d be able to persuade Superdelegates to abandon Hillary Clinton at the last minute and get behind him even though he was a distant second place by every conceivable measure. In the end, though, Sanders efforts proved to be for naught. While results are not complete, Clinton currently leads Sanders in California by thirteen points and, as of this morning, has been declared the winner by The New York Times, NBC News, CNNand the Associated Press. That last win no doubt comes as a relief to the Clinton campaign. Even though there was no question that Clinton would secure enough delegates last night to put Clinton over the top, a loss in California would have proven somewhat of an embarrassment to headed into the General Election and likely would have emboldened a Bernie Sanders who has become more bitter and sullen as the primary campaign has gone on.

There isn’t much to be said about Clinton’s victory that I didn’t say yesterday, but it is perhaps appropriate that her victory speech last night came exactly eight years after Clinton formally conceded the Democratic nomination for President to Barack Obama after a hard-fought, often contentious, and in the end quite close fight that came down to the final primaries. This time around, the race ended up being just as a hard fought and contentious, but the final result is far more decisive than Obama’s victory over Clinton was back then. Eight years ago, for example, Obama ended up leading Clinton by just over 100 pledged delegates and just over 300 total delegates when Superdelegates are added in. By some measures, Clinton actually won more popular votes over the course of that primary contest than Obama did. (Source) This time around, Clinton dominated Sanders by every measure, including total and pledged delegates, the popular vote, and the number of states won. Indeed, had Democrats used the delegate allocation rules the GOP uses then Clinton would have wrapped this nomination up weeks ago. It was only because of the proportional allocation rules Democrats use that Sanders was able to maintain the illusion of a viable campaign while Clinton was made to appear to be a weaker candidate than she actually was.

As things stand now, Sanders seemingly largely stands alone and with very few options if he wants to remain relevant headed into the race. Even before the polls had closed in California, it was being reported that Sanders would be heading back to Vermont to reassess his campaign and that he was likely to lay off more than half of his campaign staff. It’s also being reported that Sanders will meet with President Obama tomorrow, at Sanders request. As James Joyner put it this morning, it is most assuredly time for Sanders to concede, but it’s unclear just how easy it will be to convince him of that. An article posted this morning at Politico, for example, paints a picture of a campaign where aides have known for months that the candidate cannot possibly win but where the candidate either refuses to recognize that reality or is simply ignoring it: 

Top Sanders aides admit that it’s been weeks, if not months, since they themselves realized he wasn’t going to be win, and they’ve been operating with a Trump’s-got-no-real-shot safety net. They debate whether Sanders’ role in the fall should be a full vote-for-Clinton campaign, or whether he should just campaign hard against Trump without signing up to do much for her directly.

They haven’t been able to get Sanders focused on any of that, or on the real questions about what kind of long term organization to build out of his email list. They know they’ll have their own rally in Philadelphia – outside the the convention hall—but that’s about as far as they’ve gotten.

“He wants to be in the race until the end, until the roll call vote,” Weaver said.


There’s also the issue of payback. Campaign aides say that whatever else happens, Sanders wants former Congressman Barney Frank and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy out of their spots as co-chairs of the convention rules committee. It’s become a priority fight for him.

Sanders, the aides say, believes Frank has hated him for years, but the former Massachusetts congressman’s calling him a “McCarthyite” pushed him over the edge. He never really registered who Malloy was, despite his being from a neighboring home state and his status as one of the most liberal governors in the country, but Sanders was enraged to hear the governor say he had blood on his hands for not supporting the gun manufacturer liability law.

Aides think Democrats should be grateful that he’s increased voter turnout and registration. And it’s why they assume Clinton’s campaign will humbly request he be her college campus and millennial ambassador through the fall, to keep up the rallies and the voter registration that’s given him the 45 percent of primary voters.

“When they say we’re hurting the Democratic Party,” Devine said, “we believe we’re helping it.”

That’s because Sanders is a savvier politician than almost anyone’s given him credit for. He likes that he’s been in front of almost a million people since the campaign started. But he knows that as soon as the campaign’s done, the crowds will start thinning, and he’s not going to get on television anymore. He’s certainly not running for president again.

Sanders knows the ride is about to stop—but he’s going to push it as far as he can before it does.

The danger for Sanders is that he’ll push things too far and lose whatever power his successes over the past year may have given him. The choice is really his at this point.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. C. Clavin says:

    what promises to be among the most contentious General Election battles in recent memory.

    causing or likely to cause an argument; controversial.

    Yeah…OK. Lot’s of noise, perhaps.
    I think it’s shaping up to be a laugher. Already Republicans are running away from him; Mark Kirk, Graham, Rubio, Gingrich…even sycophant Morning Joe. Guys like Ryan and McConnell are left stuck…saying that yes, he’s a terrible racist but they support him anyway, because clearly they are men of incredible principle.
    And the woman Trump endorsed, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), lost her primary bid Tuesday night. So what kind of coat-tails is he going to have???
    And look…here comes Obama and Biden, and the rest of the Democratic party to make Trump look like the insecure, ignorant, buffoon he is.

  2. Phil O. says:

    That Politico article is the sort of thing you typically see for a candidate AFTER they concede. There is a lot of ass-covering by named Sanders’ staff in there (people who presumably want to be able to work future Democratic candidates/administrations and thus need distance from a recalcitrant Sanders). Quite surprising pre-concession. It’s a sinking ship.

  3. bookdragon says:

    Despite the way she is so often depicted as a poor campaigner, Hillary won in a blow out. That’s not a knock on Sanders, who did far better than anyone expected, but an observation on perceptions.

    I think Ezra Klein is onto something here:

    It’s time to admit Hillary Clinton is an extraordinarily talented politician

    …But another way to look at the primary is that Clinton employed a less masculine strategy to win. She won the Democratic primary by spending years slowly, assiduously, building relationships with the entire Democratic Party. She relied on a more traditionally female approach to leadership: creating coalitions, finding common ground, and winning over allies. Today, 523 governors of members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; 13 have endorsed Sanders.

    This work is a grind — it’s not big speeches, it doesn’t come with wide applause, and it requires an emotional toughness most human beings can’t summon.

    But Clinton is arguably better at that than anyone in American politics today….

    In fact, the way she won is how politicians used to do it before tv and social media made it a “who can yell the loudest and get the most attention” contest. Maybe her way proves to be the effective strategy we can eventually get back to a mode of politics that cares about building coalitions in order to actually govern as opposed to screaming and staging fake outrage-gasms in order to gin up the vote.

  4. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I voted for Sanders in March, but I am honestly starting to think that I would have been better off strategically voting in the GOP primary for the state and local offices.

  5. Gavrilo says:


    Today, 523 governors of members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; 13 have endorsed Sanders.

    Let’s take a moment to consider the profound stupidity in that statement. There are fewer than 300 Democrats in the House, Senate, and Governorships combined. That being said, Hillary Clinton is an abysmal politician. It took her until the final day of primaries to dispatch Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders! A year ago, Bernie Sanders was polling at 3%. He had virtually zero name recognition. He was so far left, the Democratic Party was too conservative for him. He represented Vermont, one of the least populous states in the country. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was universally known. She had run for President before. Her husband had run for President twice before. She represented one of the most heavily populated states in the country. She had been Secretary of State. She had spent decades building relationships with State and Local Party leaders around the country. Bernie Sanders never should have won a single primary outside of Vermont.

    On top of that, she has made some incredibly bad mistakes. It’s undeniable that she’s wanted to be President since at least 2000. Yet, she thought it would be alright to set up her own email server. What did she think would happen? No one would notice? At the very least, that’s inexcusably stupid. And, what did she do when she left the State Department? She went on a speaking tour around Wall Street. Despite the fact that the Occupy movement had already made income inequality a huge issue among the Democrat base. Why did she need to do that? Her husband had already made somewhere north of $100 million. She didn’t need the money. Again, did she think no one would notice? Hell, she gave a speech last fall exclaiming that a woman who claims she was raped deserves to be believed. Despite the fact that a woman accused her own husband of rape. What did she think? No one would remember that?

  6. An Interested Party says:

    On top of that, she has made some incredibly bad mistakes.

    It must burn your buttons to know that she will be the next president of this country…

  7. michael reynolds says:


    No one who does not already hate Hillary gives a wet fart about the email server. It’s nothing at this point but an excuse for Bernie Bros and Republican racists to rationalize voting for a man who is a danger to this country and the world.

    This is not an election, this is an existential threat to the American Republic. Whining about Hillary is like bitching about Churchill’s colonial policy in 1941. It’s evidence either of a moral imbecile who lacks the basic capacity to prioritize, or of a person casting about for an excuse to do evil.

    Anyone who cannot figure out that Hillary Clinton is infinitely preferable to Donald Trump has a brain that is not in working order.

  8. Andre Kenji says:

    I don´t know. We are still going to discover whether Hillary is Nixon(Meaning, a uncharismatic politician that can use the unforced errors of her opponents to win) or if she is a uncharismatic politician like Dukakis or Gore that loses in the general election in part due to lack of charisma.

  9. An Interested Party says:

    We are still going to discover whether Hillary is Nixon(Meaning, a uncharismatic politician that can use the unforced errors of her opponents to win) or if she is a uncharismatic politician like Dukakis or Gore that loses in the general election in part due to lack of charisma.

    Or maybe she’ll just be Hillary Clinton…

  10. Gavrilo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The Inspector General’s report was bad for Hillary. The FBI investigation is bad for Hillary. Short of a total exoneration by the FBI, which will never happen, there is no outcome that helps her. I don’t think she’ll be indicted, nor will it be a fatal blow to her campaign. However, it is evidence (along with the other instances I mentioned) that Hillary Clinton is not the “extraordinarily talented” politician that Ezra Klein and others are trying to claim her to be. A Bernie Sanders candidacy never could have existed if not for Hillary’s very real, very cozy relationship with Wall St. A relationship that is anathema among a significant portion of the Democratic base. A relationship that is completely unnecessary for a Democratic candidate, especially one who’s been around as long as Hillary Clinton.

    I have never supported Trump, nor will I ever vote for him. I’m certainly not voting for Clinton, though I think she’ll probably win. But, if I were a Democrat, I’d be a little nervous about all the stupid mistakes she has made.

  11. stonetools says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Well, if politically she does as well as Nixon, the Democrats will be OK. Nixon won two presidential elections, including one of the biggest blowouts ever.
    Hillary is not a naturally gifted politician. But she is an astonishingly persistent and hard working one, who took advantage of the weakness of the Democratic bench to clamber to the top once more. A lot of her traits-persistence and a willingness to push the boundaries-are going to be useful in a Presidency where she may never have a Democratic House majority. Also, she will never be naive about the possibility of working with the Republicans, which was a huge problem for Obama. I expect her dealings with Republicans will be coldly realistic, not unduly hopeful of compromise, as Obama’s was.
    But all that is for the future. It’s time to praise her for her remarkable achievement and she can take a well earned victory lap, before turning to work of the general election campaign.

  12. al-Alameda says:


    I have never supported Trump, nor will I ever vote for him. I’m certainly not voting for Clinton, though I think she’ll probably win. But, if I were a Democrat, I’d be a little nervous about all the stupid mistakes she has made.

    Oh, yes, I am nervous somewhat.

    In the past 3-4 years she’s been subjected to 8 or 9 investigations by congressional Republican committees and frankly this causes me to believe that there isn’t as much to all of these “stupid mistakes” as many conservatives want to believe – otherwise all of this would have been made public by now. The Email Investigation? Truly more serious, however, if (1) her actions caused no actual harm to American security, and (2) she is not indicted, then I believe this ends up as yet another situation where Republicans have more reason to hate her, and Democrats continue to support her. No net change.

    Fortunately for Democrats grassroots Republicans decided to go all in on a real estate developer / sales man / con man, whose negatives exceed her negatives. Many of us really ARE tired of the drama that swirls around the Clintons, it’s been going on for 25 years, nothing but constant opposition ‘research’, innuendo, lies, investigation, and on and on and on. Again, and what will be the likely result of Clinton drama this time around? Not one single person will change party affiliation to oppose Clinton, it’s all been accounted for and discounted.

  13. KM says:


    Her husband had already made somewhere north of $100 million. She didn’t need the money. Again, did she think no one would notice?

    Why you dirty socialist! Telling someone in a capitalist society “they don’t need the money” is downright heresy, even if it was sarcasm! Turn in your Republican card this instant and go wash your mouth out with soap, young man!

    …… seriously though, “didn’t need the money”? The whole argument about income inequality is everyone needs money but not everyone is being paid enough to live and some are being vastly overpaid for breathing. People are pissed she got that much money for the speeches but it’s a rare person indeed who’s going to go “She’s earned enough, not one more penny ever!” It’s not “kill the rich”, it’s “let me have a chance to get rich (or at least do well) without being unfairly ground into poverty just by existing!”

  14. Gavrilo says:


    Fortunately for Democrats grassroots Republicans decided to go all in on a real estate developer / sales man / con man, whose negatives exceed her negatives.

    That validates my point. Hillary Clinton is not an “extraordinarily talented” politician. If she wins, it won’t because she’s so great, but because Trump was that much worse.

  15. CB says:


    I don’t know, as much as I want to I can’t really disagree with Gavrilo here. She’s been planning this run for over a decade. She somehow didn’t contemplate the optics of being paid six figures for giving speeches to financial industry bigwigs? She didn’t think through how it would look to have a private server set up in her house? These feel like unforced errors, errors that a truly gifted politician would avoid. I’ll be voting for her because I don’t see these things as disqualifying, but I don’t think she’s been as brilliant as some want to think. Bring on the downvotes.

  16. Gavrilo says:


    I don’t care that she went out and made millions giving speeches on Wall St. But, when you want to be the Democratic nominee for President, it’s a really stupid thing to do. Especially when you already have more money than you could ever spend. Especially when it allows an opening for a septuagenarian socialist to take a novelty campaign from 3% to a legitimate primary threat.

  17. Neil Hudelson says:


    This is the most accurate assessment of her speech situation that I have seen on the ‘nets. Surprising, considering the source.

  18. al-Alameda says:


    That validates my point. Hillary Clinton is not an “extraordinarily talented” politician. If she wins, it won’t because she’s so great, but because Trump was that much worse.

    You will not ever find me saying that she’s an extraordinarily talented politician – she’s kind of clunky as a campaigner and stiff as a speaker. What she is … is tenacious and hardworking.

  19. C. Clavin says:

    Sorry guys…
    …the first woman to ever earn a major political party nomination for President is, by definition, extraordinary.
    Feel free to critique her decisions or her style or her hair or her pantsuits.
    At the end of the day she has accomplished something historic.

  20. @C. Clavin:

    And the woman Trump endorsed, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), lost her primary bid Tuesday night. So what kind of coat-tails is he going to have???

    Ellmers lost because she was branded a “traitor” by the Tea Party types for voting to raise the debt ceiling, not to shutdown the government, for immigration reform, etc.

    The GOP’s Purity Problem

  21. C. Clavin says:

    And to the point that she isn’t an extraordinary politician…she agrees with you.
    This is Clinton during a debate in March:

    “I am not a natural politician, in case you haven’t noticed, like my husband or President Obama,” Clinton said during Wednesday night’s debate, when asked why voters do not see her as honest or trustworthy.
    Clinton has often said decades of built-up Republican attacks on her character have contributed to those feelings in polls.
    “Look, I have said before and it won’t surprise anybody to hear me say it, this is not easy for me,” Clinton said. “It’s not easy to do what I think is right to help people, to even the odds, to hear a story like the woman’s story we just heard and to know that I can make a difference and I want to in every way possible.”

    To overcome the baseless animus against her, hammered away at over decades by the inordinately mendacious Republican propaganda machine is, in fact, extraordinary.
    As I told a friend this morning about her daughter; her life will be greatly changed by Clinton shattering the ultimate glass ceiling.

  22. Tyrell says:

    We keep hearing that this election is not “normal” , it is different, or that it is too negative.
    What has happened is that two candidates (Trump, Sanders) managed to get in and did not follow the prepared script, the chain of command, the ordered path. the arrangement, and the plan. They have been the wrench in the machine, the fly in the ointment, the ripples in the pond, the rocks in the road. They dared to step out of the scripted election and challenge the already chosen nominee – Hillary. Most of the major “news” networks have stayed in line and followed orders. So now the candidates are set. The networks are going with all the Hillary happy talk. Those in control of this process are breathing a little easier. They are going to make sure that Sanders will fall in line and not create a big scene or stir up trouble. Some sort of arrangement will be made and everyone will be holding hands and acting happy.
    Everything back on, the program still on track. Another pair of candidates selected, not elected.