WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) – Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton is prepping for another primary loss Tuesday night – this time in West Virginia.
They say good things come to those who wait, and Clinton has wound up waiting a heck of a lot longer to claim the Democratic nomination than first anticipated.
On the flip side, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump triumphed well ahead of schedule, and West Virginia will be the big juicy cherry on top of his 2016 sundae.
Clinton struggles in coal country
The man standing in Clinton’s way, self-declared democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, became a bigger electoral obstacle as he caught fire with young voters and dissatisfied progressives on the left.
Sanders now looks primed to swipe another primary win from Clinton in the Mountaineer State.
“Sanders’s West Virginia strength rests in large part on the state’s lack of racial diversity. It is 93 percent non-Hispanic white, the third-highest share of any state,” reports Harry Enton for FiveThirtyEight. “The other key pro-Sanders factor in West Virginia: It holds a semi-closed primary, meaning that unaffiliated voters can take part in either party’s primary. Sanders has done exceedingly well among voters who identify as independent, according to exit polls.”
Clinton likely wasn’t counting on the race extending through May, forcing her to fight for delegates in coal country.
She transferred many votes into the Sanders column with one utterance, in a larger debate, about her energy policy: “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Clinton has since apologized to coal miners, but polls suggest it’s too late. The few polls that do exist for West Virginia show Sanders with an average six point lead, according to RCP.
Trump takes a victory lap
Trump has cleared the once-overflowing field of Republican opponents, setting him up for easy wins from here on out.
In West Virginia, Trump has held rallies packed with enthusiastic supporters clad in everything from American flags to mining gear.
“The miners endorsed Donald Trump,” announced Trump, playing his own hype man.
And he’s right.
The presumptive GOP nominee will sail to victory in West Virginia and Nebraska’s Republican primaries, both held Tuesday.
Trump, Clinton close to clinching
Trump currently has 1,068 of the 1,237 delegates needed to officially clinch the GOP nomination, according to the AP delegate tracker.
Clinton is even closer to her goal, claiming 2,228 of the 2,383 delegated required to become the Democratic nominee.
Neither of the front-runners can wrap up their party’s nomination, numerically, until June’s contests take place.
Until then, Sanders vowed to supporters this week, “We are going to fight for every vote until June 14.”
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales