New York is about to start voting as I write this, so it is possible that what I write will be proven stupid in very quick time. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Here is my take on what is really at stake.
First up, as noted previously, I think Clinton will almost certainly be the Democrat nominee. For Sanders to beat her he will have to exceed expectations not only today, but over and over again all the way to California. A single slip would be fatal.
I also think the Republican nominee will be either Trump or Cruz. The claims for Kasich or some other white knight riding a dark horse don’t make much sense.
Should I be right about both of these, I think Clinton has a better than 80% chance of winning the election. Trump and Cruz are both terrible general election candidates. Only something really dramatic like a major terrorist attack could see them beat a candidate most Americans don’t like much, but have see as competent and mainstream.
However, which of Trump and Cruz wins could have big implications down the track. If Trump wins, Cruz will be very well positioned to be the Republican candidate in 2020. Much as the establishment might try to stop him, it’s hard to see how they beat him unless he beats himself. Which I think will put Hilary in a very good position to win a second term.
On the other hand, if Cruz wins the nomination, but is beaten by Hilary, he’s unlikely to get another go. Sure his supporters might blame it on disloyalty from Trump or some such, but the pressure for an apparently more moderate candidate, be it Ryan, Kasich or Rubio, will be much stronger. And such a candidate would have a very good chance of beating a weak campaigner in her party’s third successive presidential term.
It’s possible that the demographics favouring the Democrats will save Clinton in such a scenario, and many things could change between now and then, but it would almost certainly be a tough fight.
If I was Hillary I would be more worried by what was happening in the Republic contest than on the Democrat side.