We’re getting early returns in what promises to be a late night of Democratic primary politics. Although two-thirds of the remaining delegates will be awarded in just two states (New Jersey and California) on June 7th, today’s contests in Oregon and Kentucky are imbued with extra drama because Hillary Clinton is only winning by hundreds of delegates and millions of votes. Why can’t she close the deal?

Hillary Clinton is under pressure to do well in Democratic nominating contests in Kentucky and Oregon on Tuesday so she can turn her attention to the general election and the mounting attacks on her being waged by Republican candidate Donald Trump.

Of course, Sen. Bernie Sanders needs to win an impossibly-high percentage of the remaining delegates to win, so all the pressure must obviously be on Clinton, right? At this moment, in fact, he’s leading in Kentucky, but by such a small margin that his path to the nomination is still shrinking by the hour. Compared to the 2008 nomination race, in sheer numerical terms Clinton has already left Sanders in the dust. When does she actually get to be the, y’know, front-runner?

To his most ardent supporters, the delegate math and the popular vote gap are just further evidence that ‘Democratic Party elites’ have rigged the game against Sanders. This article of faith overrides all other concerns for them: majority rule, rules agreed upon in advance, and basic decency are nothing compared to their high opinion of Sanders and highly-developed distaste for Clinton. The more he loses, the nastier and meaner this primary gets — and Sanders himself shows no sign of reigning it in.

Remember when Sanders told us that he would break Republican intransigence with a mass-movement and a big demonstration of people power? Remember the massive surge of new voters he was going to bring into the process? Those rhetorical pipe-dreams are now manifesting as a screaming mob of malcontents, convinced in their self-righteousness that they are saving America and freedom at whatever cost. They will destroy democracy in order to save it from itself. 

To the updates!

7:21 PM – Kentucky has almost 75% of returns in; Clinton leads by about 1,600 votes. The Bluegrass state is unlikely to pad out her popular vote lead very much tonight.

7:36 pm – MSNBC is way behind the Huffington Post vote tracker, but Steve Kornacki just said that Clinton won Fayette County, which is a university town and presumably ought to be a Sanders stronghold. Howard Fineman says that Clinton campaigned hard in Kentucky; Joy Reid says that the Democratic machinery is still strong in the state.

7:42 PM – Kentucky has counted 88% of ballots and Clinton holds a 3,000-vote lead. And look who has weighed in:

There is nothing more misogynist than telling a winner to get out of the race because she’s not winning enough.

7:50 PM – Robert Costa concern-trolls Trump digging up the insane right wing narratives of the 90s. America yawns.

7:55 PM – Decision Desk HQ is calling the state for Clinton, but he’s actually winning by a few dozen votes right now.

8:05 PM – Just like the last time I did one of these liveblogs, Kentucky has big urban boxes that will come in late for Clinton. So sayeth Kornacki.

8:08 PM – Chuck Todd has weighed in: “We are waiting to find out whether Hillary Clinton can give Bernie Sanders a PR problem tomorrow.” Maddow seems to remember that Sanders walked away from Kentucky after saying he could win there.

8:12 PM – Reid says the Sanders campaign has hired a new GOTV director in California to replace the one that left when they decided not to do GOTV in California. What a tight campaign! What a great use of tens of millions of small donor dollars!

8:15 PM – Clinton just retook a 3,000-vote lead with Jefferson County.

8:20 PM – Nicolle Wallace says that if Clinton loses, we will look back on this time when Sanders and Trump echoed each other in attacks on her as a formative moment.

8:22 PM – NBC is calling Kentucky for Clinton, pending any corrections by the Secretary of State.

And behold: fresh denialism! CONSPIRACY!

8:32 PM – Rachel Maddow points out that mathematically, Clinton is closer to clinching her party’s nomination than Trump is.

8:35 PM – Josh Marshall has called out Sanders for lying to his supporters.

Losing is hard. If you pump people up with bogus arguments that they’re losing because they got cheated and the system was rigged, you get people who are really angry, genuinely angry, even though they’re upset that their efforts to reverse the result of the actual election didn’t work.

8:46 PM – Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver is apparently claiming that Kentucky was a tie. Of course!

9:10 PM – Jon Ralston is eviscerating the Sanders campaign’s version of events in Nevada Saturday.

9:12 PM – A Berniac is now appearing on MSNBC to whine that Ralston didn’t ask her side of the story.

9:14 PM – Angie Morelli, the aforementioned Berniac, is now saying that the convention venue had too many bars in it, that her petitions went unrecognized, and that she is the only true victim of violence at the event. It’s all the Democratic Party’s fault!

9:25 PM – Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be the voice of Satan tonight…

DWS just pinned responsibility on Sanders for the behavior of his supporters in the most gentle fashion. By tomorrow morning, her perfectly-reasonable words about the process will feed the confirmation bias of every Sanders-sucking left wing blog.

9:33 PM – Earlier tonight, I found someone on Facebook blithely arguing that lynching Democrats is a fair response to their supposed sins against Saint Bernie. He wasn’t kidding, and the results pending in Oregon are liable to shove such people further towards the edge.

9:58 PM – As I await the first results from Oregon, Maddow keeps reminding viewers that the state is a complete unknowable. Despite polling that shows Clinton with a healthy lead, the state seems structurally built for Sanders.

10:12 PM – The early returns show Sanders with a big lead, but they’re changing quickly and the way the state reports them is an utter mystery given the unique experiment Oregon is running with its voter registration system.

10:15 PM – Watching Sanders gripe that “independents” haven’t been allowed to vote in Kentucky and claim that the state is a great victory on his path to California. All his hopes are pinned to a state where he hasn’t run an ad in weeks.

10:20 PM – You know what? I don’t want Sanders to drop out. I want every ballot counted. That way, Sanders can finish a full four million aggregate votes behind the winner and we can get over the question of who “the people” want to be president. But when he gives false hope to his supporters, holding out for unrealistic hopes, I feel angry at him for setting them up to fail. It seems extremely unfair to everyone I know and care about who supports him.

10:27 PM – Sanders just touted a poll that showed him beating Donald Trump by one percentage point more than Hillary does. That’s less than the margin of error for a poll — a perfect example of how not to use statistics.

10:30 PM – Sanders is leading by 24,000 votes in Oregon with 58% reported.

Sanders is telling the Democratic Party leadership to “open the doors, let the people in.” (They did, Bernie, the people just didn’t vote for you.)

10:35 PM – Here’s what drives me absolutely nuts about Sanders: he can talk endlessly about billionaires and oligarchy and Citizens United, but how will he fix these issues without electoral coattails?

10:37 PM – NBC is calling Oregon for Sanders. Do you see any Clintonistas rioting? Accusing the Democratic Party of fraud? Screeching about closed primaries? Nope, because Hillary Clinton is not a sore loser and doesn’t encourage it in her partisans.

10:44 PM – OMFG MSNBC, just list Lawrence O’Donnell as a Sanders surrogate already. (OK, that was snarky.)

10:55 PM – As I call it a night, I just want to point out that running away from a reporter’s question about events in Nevada Saturday is not presidential behavior.

  • Thank You Matt

    Great coverage Matt, thank you.

  • William A. Ferguson

    I’m so glad I opted out of cable television.

    Somebody wake me up when the convention is over and we’ve got a candidate.

    At this point I don’t give a shit who it is.