The Pulse: Kentucky and Oregon primaries

William JordanUS Elections Editor
May 17, 2016, 11:31 AM GMT+0

Hello, I'm Will Jordan and welcome to The Pulse.

Welcome back! Today voters head to the polls in Kentucky (only Democrats) and Oregon (both parties). Here are some things you should know:

  1. Where do things stand now?

    Republicans: Donald Trump is now the “presumptive” nominee following a dominating win in Indiana, which led Ted Cruz and John Kasich to promptly drop out.

    Democrats: Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is in primary purgatory, the nomination secure but not quite “clinched”. Her delegate lead (nearly 300 or over 700 depending on whether you count superdelegates) is practically unassailable, but Sanders is not being prompt about anything.

  2. Didn’t Bernie just win a couple?

    Yes. He won primaries in Indiana and West Virginia. Clinton won the Guam Caucuses (yeah, that Guam). Indiana was sort of surprising, though, as we noted here two weeks ago, it was a demographically favorable state for Sanders despite polls giving Clinton a slight edge. However, the races were close enough (and small enough) that Sanders only shaved 11 delegates off of Clinton’s big lead. To be on track to catch Clinton he needed to be winning around two-thirds of the delegates in the remaining states. By that measure he’s fallen even further behind.

  3. What next?

    This doesn’t mean Sanders is ready to give in, though Clinton appears eager to put him away. The two states voting today, Oregon and Kentucky, have demographic profiles similar to states Sanders has won so far. But Clinton is making a last-minute push in the Bluegrass State, which may mean her campaign believes it to be a winnable race (there has been no public polling there). We can guess it’s also an indication that Team Clinton wants to move on and focus on her ... other opponent.

  4. Will the long primary fight matter in the general?

    YouGov’s latest has a close race, Clinton maintaining a slim two-point lead over Trump among registered voters. Against Sanders Trump trails by nine. One lingering question again goes back to Clinton and Sanders – 75% of Clinton supporters would warm up to Bernie if he was the nominee against Trump; currently, only 55% of Sanders supporters return the favor for Clinton. This may change if/when Clinton locks it up, but it’s a sign why a lingering party split worries Clinton, who had to work overtime in 2008 to bring supporters around to Obama after a brutal primary. Bernie supporters are more negative about Clinton than ever – favorable opinions of the frontrunner have fallen from 60% in December 2015 to 38% this May. Clinton supporters may also be finally turning on Sanders.

  1. Aren’t things worse for Republicans?

    Yes, though the trend has been in the opposite direction with regard to Mr Presumptive Nominee. Trump’s net favorability with GOP primary voters have risen significantly since he entered the race, while Clinton's have declined with Democratic voters – albeit from a far higher starting point. Trump’s large and loyal following isn't necessarily a boon for party unity, however. GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan’s net favorability fell from +27 among Republicans in late-April to just +4 after he withheld his endorsement of the presumptive nominee. Six in ten Republicans want Ryan to endorse Trump. Of course, Trump also faces serious problems outside of his party: while he has transformed his image among Republicans since last June, the wider public have barely budged.

  2. Something else: Something we can agree on?

    Majorities of Republicans and Democrats – including most Sanders supporters and most Clinton supporters – agree it would be better if the primaries only lasted a single day. What an idea.

Follow me for constant updates on the race, and other good stuff too.

The Pulse is a weekly newsletter YouGov has launched ahead of the 2016 primaries and general election to give readers a one-stop-shop for the latest polling-related news from the campaign. In addition to YouGov’s own extensive coverage of the election, The Pulse gives you the five things you need to know about the state of the campaign each week (and one you don't need to know but we think is worth knowing anyway!).

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