So what does Bernie Sanders want?
Last night, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the campaign wanted to go on a superdelegate hunt deep into the summer. On the other hand, senior adviser Tad Devine was saying they wanted to see how the Acela primary results shook out, then "assess where we are." And the candidate himself just wanted to go home, making a late journey back to Vermont that caught his traveling press corps by surprise.
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."
Bernie Sanders has so far won every county named Clinton County pic.twitter.com/CdNVdd9fwU— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) April 20, 2016
THE NEXT STOP:
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.)
Cruz's dlgte slate in PA: Consists of 24 names for 54 slots. Cmpgn says others (not on slate) have verbally pledged. pic.twitter.com/WSkg9cNJ2T— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) April 20, 2016
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."
That's the Trump #math. Here's ours: the front-runner needs to win roughly 63 percent of the remaining delegates in order to claim a delegate majority ahead of the convention. And that sounds like a tall order, particularly when you look at his showings to date:
But at this point in the primary season, past performance isn't necessarily an indicator of future results. "Many of the remaining Republican contests are winner-take-all or winner-take-most (as was New York)," notes Bump. "Meaning that Trump has a much better shot at outperforming his target of 63 percent. In most states, his delegate haul has outperformed his actual vote percentage by a decent margin."
(To reach that 1,400 mark before Cleveland, he'd have to win more than 80 percent of the remaining delegates.)
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.)
THE VIEW FROM THE FIELD:
Being handed out at Trump's rally in Indianapolis: pic.twitter.com/gHxco038bw— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) April 20, 2016
Think I just heard a small "Tom Brady sucks!" chant break out at the Trump event in Indianapolis. pic.twitter.com/KChWdEuOv1— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) April 20, 2016
Trump not here yet, but a protester was already handcuffed and led out of the pavilion. pic.twitter.com/IYLi6air4S— Jacob Rascon (@Jacobnbc) April 20, 2016
Trump supporters pointing out protesters to security, per the PA instructions at the top of the program. pic.twitter.com/v5lBROJdS7— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) April 20, 2016
Trump as protesters escorted out. "Bernie's gone. You know that, right?"— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) April 20, 2016
Worth noting: Protesters say a local pastor invited them to the event. They said no & decided to protest instead. https://t.co/fXDChWUNKr— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) April 20, 2016
OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND -- pic.twitter.com/squndtlMmR— Jacqueline Alemany (@JaxAlemany) April 20, 2016
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.
Team Cruz obv setting sights on winning a contested convention. "I do not believe Donald has a path" to majority. pic.twitter.com/y2xiDBZWsx— Andrew J. Tobias (@AndrewJTobias) April 20, 2016
John Kasich's campaign manager doesn't think much of #NeverTrump's efforts in New York.
HOW HAMILTON DODGED THE BULLET THIS TIME:
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.
By the way, if you're wondering how Jackson got there in the first place: you're not alone — no one seems to know. Not even the people in charge of the money. And here's more on that time his replacement, Harriet Tubman, was a Civil War spy for the Union.
But which American hero will be the new face of Venmo?— Kelsey L. Hayes (@kelseylh) April 20, 2016
(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.
—#2016 trendlet alert: Fake newspaper front pages may be becoming a thing. It's still a bit short of a full-fledged trend, but it gets extra credit for the fact that one example involves a parody of a parody. (Glass half full analysis: maybe enthusiasm for fake fronts will translate into a greater appetite for the real thing.)
(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.