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Acela primaries: Winners, losers

Acela primaries: Winners, losers
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Call it what you want — the Acela primaries, the Atlantic primaries or one more Super Tuesday — but it was another big night on the electoral calendar as voters in five states went to the polls.  

This time, the action wasn’t all on the presidential level. There were a number of closely watched down-ballot races as well. 

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Now that the returns are almost all in from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, who are celebrating and who are left licking their wounds? 

WINNERS 

Businessman Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE (R) 

Trump was easily the biggest winner of the night, having been projected to win all five states barely a half-hour after polls closed. 

The exact size of his delegate haul is not yet decided, but the wide margins of his victories will deliver a significant boost. His chances of hitting the magic number of 1,237 delegates required to claim the GOP nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland have increased. 

Trump’s main rival, Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFormer CEO Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia GOP gubernatorial convention The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts MORE, now desperately needs to beat the business mogul in Indiana, which votes next Tuesday. If Trump prevails there, he could be on a glide path to the nomination.

Trump’s victory speech at his New York headquarters on Tuesday included a number of jabs at Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAmerica departs Afghanistan as China arrives Young, diverse voters fueled Biden victory over Trump McConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' MORE. But he also declared, “I consider myself the presumptive nominee.” While there is an element of braggadocio in that claim, it’s much closer to the truth than his enemies in the GOP would like to admit.   

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) 

There is no real doubt that Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee at this point. 

She won four of the five states on Tuesday, including the biggest delegate prize, Pennsylvania. Her left-wing rival, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Symone Sanders 'hurt' at being passed over for press secretary: report MORE (I-Vt.), thwarted her only in Rhode Island. That means Clinton will likely end up more than 300 pledged delegates ahead of Sanders. There is no way back for him from there. 

Clinton’s speech in Philadelphia was almost entirely focused on the general election, promising “an America where we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down.” It was a recognition that the primary battle is — finally — drawing to a close.

President Obama 

Obama intervened in two competitive primaries on Tuesday and his preferred candidate won in both instances.  

The higher profile race was the Pennsylvania Senate primary. Obama weighed in on behalf of Katie McGinty, a former chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, describing her as “a true champion for working families.” McGinty defeated former congressman and Navy admiral Joe Sestak more easily than most experts, and most polls, had predicted.  

Obama also endorsed Josh Shapiro in the race for attorney general in Pennsylvania. Shapiro won a hotly contested three-person primary. 

Senate Democrats 

Democrats who are focused on their quest to take back control of the upper chamber had a good night on Tuesday. One reason was McGinty’s victory in Pennsylvania. The party powers that be are adamant she gives the party a better chance of defeating Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey in November than Sestak would have done. He lost to Toomey in 2010.  

But Democrats will also take heart from Trump’s continued advance toward the Republican nomination. They believe the businessman is toxic for Republicans fighting to hold seats in battleground states.  

LOSERS 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Tuesday’s results were respectable for Sanders — he won Rhode Island and ran strongly in Connecticut. But respectable is not enough at this stage of the game. As Obama’s former senior adviser David Axelrod noted on CNN, “We’re well beyond the ‘winning states’ phase of the program. He has to win delegates, he has to win lots of them.”  

Sanders has not been able to do so, and that means the primary, as a competitive contest, is as good as over. 

Overall, Sanders’s campaign has far surpassed expectations. But a statement released on Tuesday night implicitly acknowledged that the moment when he posed a real threat to Clinton had passed. 

The statement included no assertion that Sanders could win. Rather, the senator said that his campaign would be “going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform.”  

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R)

It was a miserable night for Trump’s rivals. 

Kasich and his aides had talked up his chances of a strong showing in Pennsylvania, which abuts his base of Ohio. At around midnight Eastern time, with 95 percent of precincts reporting in the Keystone State, Kasich was running in third place with around 19 percent of the vote. 

Cruz performed ever worse than expected in the two most northeastern states, Connecticut and Rhode Island, drawing only around 10 percent of the vote. He could emerge from the night without a single delegate. 

The problem for Cruz and Kasich is not just that Trump is closer to the magic number of delegates. It’s that the scale of their defeats makes it harder to claim they are credible contenders for the nomination, even if the battle at the Republican National Convention goes beyond a first ballot. 

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) 

Edwards’s bid to replace retiring Maryland Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiBottom line How the US can accelerate progress on gender equity Former Md. senator Paul Sarbanes dies at 87 MORE (D) was always a gamble because she was taking on Rep. Chris Van Hollen, whose roots in the Democratic establishment in the state — and nationwide — run deeper than hers. Nonetheless, the loss in the primary will be a bitter blow to Edwards, who is giving up a safe House seat representing Maryland’s 4th Congressional District. 

Edwards was running to the left of Van Hollen and might have held out hope of an upset in a year when Sanders was performing so strongly as the presidential level. Had she won the primary, Edwards would have been virtually assured of becoming the second African-American female senator in history, after former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.). Instead, she now looks toward an uncertain future. 

Activist DeRay Mckesson (D) 

McKesson’s effort to get elected Mayor of Baltimore was the first serious venture into electoral politics by someone identified with the Black Lives Matter movement — and it was a disaster.  

Mckesson garnered only about 3 percent of the vote as State Sen. Catherine Pugh won a relatively narrow victory over former Mayor Sheila Dixon. Winning the Democratic primary in the city makes general election victory all but certain. 

Mckesson grew to national prominence as an activist using social media to draw attention to his cause. He has 342,000 Twitter followers. But he faced criticism in Baltimore for his lack of a strong connection to the city’s politics, and his history of support for charter schools was also controversial

His very weak showing will play into the hands of the critics of Black Lives Matter, who seek to minimize the movement’s support while arguing that its activists are politically callow.