By Ben Kamisar
Tuesday's primary contests put Hillary Clinton fewer than 100 delegates short of clinching the nomination.
Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) split the two states — Clinton narrowly won in Kentucky, while Sanders won big in Oregon. But for the night, Sanders fell short of the blowout margins he needs to begin to catch up to the front-runner.
The razor-thin Kentucky margin means that the two candidates will about split the state's 60 delegates, while Sanders will earn a handful more of Oregon's 74 delegates.
As of early Wednesday, The Associated Press awarded Clinton 29 delegates to Sanders's 27 in Kentucky, with 3 remaining to be allocated. And in Oregon, the AP gave Clinton 30 delegates to Sanders's 29, with another 15 remaining.
That puts Clinton at 1,767 pledged delegates to Sanders's 1,488 — a gap of 279 with just a handful of contests to go, according to the AP.
Neither candidate is likely to reach the threshold of 2,383 delegates without the help of superdelegates, party leaders given a vote on the convention floor. Clinton leads overwhelmingly there despite Sanders's pleas that they should support him instead. Her superdelegate success swells her delegate count to 2,291, just 92 delegates short.
So as long as most of her superdelegates stay with her at the Democratic National Convention, she sits just a stone's throw away from securing the nomination.
Tuesday marked the last primaries until June 7, a pivotal date when Clinton will almost assuredly surpass the threshold. Sanders would have to win more than two-thirds of the 714 delegates remaining in order to end primary season with more pledged delegates than Clinton. And even then, she'd still hold the upper hand unless her superdelegate supporters broke en masse.
Despite the grim prospects for Sanders's nomination, he has repeatedly promised to campaign until the convention. Even if he falls short of the nomination, the delegates he wins throughout the primary process will help him wield an outsized influence on the convention floor on issues like party rules and the party platform.