The long-term answer to the question of what Bernie Sanders wants "will have a direct bearing on how united Democrats will be heading into the fall campaign — and whether Sanders will be able to leverage his success this year into lasting power and influence," note Dan Balz and John Wagner.
"His campaign for the Democratic nomination has been more successful than almost anyone had predicted. ... But as Clinton extends her lead in pledged delegates, Sanders must now confront the reality that he has almost no chance of becoming the Democratic nominee. Instead he must decide what he will do with what he has built — starting with how he conducts his campaign over the next two months, how he navigates the party’s national convention in July, what role he plays in the general election and, perhaps most importantly, what happens after the November results have been tallied.
"...What Sanders decides about the future course of his campaign could be crucial to how quickly the party comes together after what has become an increasingly fractious nominating battle, something the Clinton forces are keenly aware of. Sanders’s recent attacks on Clinton have alarmed her supporters. They are now listening closely for a change in his rhetoric — as there was in Clinton’s at roughly the same point in 2008 in her contest against then-Sen. Barack Obama.
For now, his team "showed no immediate signs of relenting in its improbable bid to catch her in the chase for delegates."
Over the past few weeks, that chase has changed course. "[Jeff] Weaver knows very well that he's not going to catch Clinton's pledged delegates," says Philip Bump. "His only hope has been to convince superdelegates that Sanders has momentum or that he will win the popular vote or that Sanders is preferred nationally or that he's got the better shot in November. Sanders supporters loathe the superdelegates, who they fairly see as undemocratic. But the campaign had no choice.
"On Tuesday night, Weaver admitted that -- and tacitly admitted that several of the arguments he'd want to use to convince superdelegates have stumbled. The overwrought 'momentum' argument, predicated on a cluster of demographically friendly states, was crippled by Clinton's better-than-expected New York win -- which also hurt the popular vote argument. Weaver has very few arrows left in his quiver."
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are looking to ride to victory in the Acela primary next Tuesday.
Both front-runners "plunged swiftly Wednesday into the next batch of primaries in five states along the Northeast Corridor, where they hope to bury or break their challengers for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations," report Sean Sullivan and Anne Gearan.
"Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island will vote next Tuesday in what many are dubbing the 'Acela primary,' putting Clinton and Trump on terrain well-tailored to their campaigns. For Clinton, it’s a chance to effectively end Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s long-shot hopes in the Democratic race.
"For Trump, the contests are an opportunity to further pad his delegate lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and send him tumbling into the final six weeks of the campaign. That crucial period will determine whether the mogul will clinch the GOP nomination outright or if the race will head to a contested convention."
(If you're the sort of person who isn't keen on the "Acela primary" coinage, a PSA: today, Ted Cruz called the California primary "The Big Enchilada." If you have any alternatives in mind, the time to speak up is now.)
In Pennsylvania, the Cruz campaign is once again looking to gain ground during the delegate selection process, as the Trump campaign's new convention guru Paul Manafort predicts this time will be different: "We were involved in the filing, and we’re going to run a very competitive race."
The latest Trump team #math: the mogul "will accumulate more than 1,400 delegates to secure the nomination on the first round of balloting at the party's Cleveland convention, according to an internal campaign memorandum," reports Philip Rucker. [Note: Here's that memo in its entirety, fabulously annotated by Chris Cillizza.]
"The projections come in a memo distributed to Trump surrogates late Tuesday night containing talking points for use in media interviews this week. The memo, obtained by The Washington Post, describes Trump's commanding win in the New York primary as 'YUGE' and encourages his supporters to speak out about what Trump has described as a 'rigged' process of selecting delegates for the Republican National Convention in July.
"The memo refers to the campaign's staff shakeup, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's power diminished and newly-hired adviser Paul Manafort assuming broad control over the campaign's strategy and its enhanced budget. It reads, 'Building out our campaign staff to make sure we leave no stone unturned and that we can win this thing on the up and up — not through a rigged set of rules.'"
The most interesting thing about the memo wasn't necessarily what the campaign had to say. It's how they said it. "The 1,165-word memo was distributed via e-mail to a blind list of surrogates and other supporters by Trump aide Erica Freeman. Spokeswoman Hope Hicks as well as Rick Gates, a Manafort deputy, were copied on the message. The campaign has been sending similar memos almost daily for the past couple of weeks, another sign that the operation is maturing into a more traditional political operation under Manafort's leadership."
At this moment, Bernie Sanders would need to win a smaller proportion of the remaining pledged Democratic delegates -- roughly 59 percent -- to reach Philadelphia with a majority. The fact that he doesn't have the winner-take-all option is a big reason it is virtually impossible for him to catch up to Hillary Clinton. (Then again, any sort of winner-take-all or -most option would have only amplified Clinton's big win last night.)
As the Republican National Committee meets in Florida, the remaining candidates are "turn[ing] up the charm" (offering a potential preview of the treatment delegates can expect for the next three months or so.)
Today, Ted Cruz called for more debates, saying the field was "headed to a contested convention."
On a related note: Last night Trump "made it impossible for Ted Cruz to clinch the GOP nomination," per Fix analysis.
John Kasich's campaign manager doesn't think much of #NeverTrump's efforts in New York.
Sure, we can debate the alternate history all day: What if we lived in a world where Lin-Manuel Miranda had written the Andrew Jackson musical? And what if that musical's Broadway run had lasted longer than three months or so, and it had won a Pulitzer, and it hadn't featured the tagline "History just got all sexypants"? But he didn't -- and it didn't, didn't and did -- and so Alexander Hamilton is staying on the $10 bill, and Andrew Jackson is getting evicted from the $20.
Of course, "the modern-day story of Hamilton vs. Jackson" isn't just about the tunes, notes Amber Phillips: "At first, bureaucracy and timing seemed to conspire to kick Hamilton off the $10 bill. But then, 21st-century forces -- social media, political pressure and some really great hip-hop songs — appeared to help keep him on and give Jackson the boot instead." Here's the backstory.
(No, it's not a new line. But it's as convincing as ever.)
—More campaign #math: Trump's delegate in one Texas district took 180 times as many votes as each he claimed in one New York district yesterday.
—A reminder that while polls show a majority of Republicans like Donald Trump, and a majority of Democrats like Hillary Clinton, a majority of Americans as a whole don't share that opinion.
—Will Ted Cruz get his debates? Maybe! Priebus said it's under consideration (then again: maybe not, since Trump's last word on this is still that the GOP field has debated enough.)
—Party healing watch: Scott Walker says he'll support Trump if he's the nominee.
(A quick housekeeping note: If you thought we would make pot jokes today, you were wrong. Every time someone makes a bad pot joke — which is 100 percent of the time, because there are no good pot jokes — an angel cries. And we would never make an angel cry.)
YOUR DAILY TRAIL PIT STOP is lemur-riffic.