It was a night of relief-filled sighs and victory cheers for the Hillary Clinton campaign, as the Democratic front-runner racked up a convincing series of victories in Florida, North Carolina, and especially Ohio.
Sanders now has a shrinking path to victory and is falling further behind Clinton in the delegate count. According to projections by the Cook Political Report, he needed to win 54% of delegates tonight to avoid slipping further behind. Instead Clinton racked up more than twice as many delegates.
Clinton’s victories in the southern states were no surprise—her well-established support among minorities gave her a decisive edge. She had 65% of the vote in Florida, and 55% in North Carolina as of 10pm EDT. (In Florida, white voters made up two-thirds of voters in 2008; now they make up less than half.)
Ohio was a different story, especially after Bernie Sanders won in an upset in the demographically similar state of Michigan. Yet exit polls showed Clinton winning a majority of white voters in Ohio, after she tweaked her message to talk more about trade and the economy. Five Thirty Eight reported that Clinton won the support of 53% of voters who believe that trade with other countries takes away US jobs, bringing her to 56% of total votes in Ohio at 10pm EDT. (In Michigan, Sanders won that bloc)
“Bernie Sanders sounds like a good guy. What makes me kind of leery of Bernie is that he says we can do this and we can do that but he doesn’t always say how,” Jimmy Brown, a retired materials handler at a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, told Quartz. “I didn’t care for the trade deals. It cost us jobs. But Ohio has a lot more to offer than just steel.”
The atmosphere at Hillary Clinton’s Chicago headquarters was jubilant, despite the still close race in Illinois. Mauri Pipersburgh, who was at the Chicago campaign party for Clinton, told Quartz she was nervous about her home state. “I think a lot of young people voted for Bernie,” she said.
She was right—in Ohio, 90% of Democratic voters under 24, and almost 80% under 30 voted for Sanders. But it wasn’t enough to carry Sanders to victory. More than half of the total voter pool was over 50, according to exit polls.
Pipersburgh’s husband, Allison, was already celebrating: “She’s going to be president.” And he may be right too.
Additional reporting by Hanna Kozlowska in Illinois and Gwynn Guilford in Ohio.