It’s time for another meaningful mid-spring Primary Night, this time encompassing all four time zones … in just two states. Kentucky and Oregon voters trudge off to polling stations today to select their choices for presidential nominees in both parties. The question may be moot for Republicans, but it’s at least theoretically open for Democrats … at least in Feel the Bern fantasies. The big tension today will be whether Hillary Clinton can finally push Bernie Sanders out of the race, or whether a couple of wins will keep pumping just enough oxygen to keep him in the race all the way to June 7th:
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 by Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The continued presence in the race of Bernie Sanders – who remains a long-shot to upset Clinton and win the Democratic nomination – is prompting concerns among Clinton allies that he will damage her ability to take on Trump and hurt the Democrat in the fall.
Oregon voters have actually been voting for three weeks, starting not long after Hillary swept the Acela Corridor Tuesday contests. However, she may have some problems overcoming Bernie’s demographic advantages:
Oregon, with a heavily white, liberal population, politically resembles its northern neighbor Washington, which voted for Sanders. Oregon voters cast their ballots by mail, meaning voting there actually began in the last week of April.
After Sanders won both West Virginia and Indiana this month, analysts said he has a good chance of taking Kentucky. Louisville and the western part of the state are more moderate politically, and Clinton spent Sunday and Monday campaigning there.
Both Oregon and Kentucky are closed primaries in which only registered Democrats can vote, a stricture Sanders has criticized as discouraging independent voters from joining the party.
Neither state has much polling to preview. A local Fox station poll put Hillary up 15 in Oregon last week for the state’s sole data point. No one has polled Kentucky since March, when Hillary was up five points in a PPP poll. Most of the analysis we’ll see will use a form of inductive reasoning by attempting to categorize each state by performances in neighboring states. We’ll see how well that works. (Note: The Kentucky primary is non-binding for Republicans, as their delegates were allocated by caucuses earlier.)
According to The Green Papers, Kentucky’s polls will close at 6 pm for its Eastern time zone precincts and 7 pm for its Central Time Zone precincts, with the state roughly split in equal halves between the two (geographically, at least). We then get to wait a long time for Oregon’s polls to close. Almost all of the state uses Pacific Time, so nearly all the polls will close at 11 ET. However, a small section of eastern Oregon uses Mountain Time, so a few precincts will close at 10 ET. If you’re staying up to watch them both, perhaps you might still be awake if Bernie decides to hang it up — or defiantly declare California (and/)or bust!
We won’t do live-stream coverage tonight on TEMS, so this will be both the Twitter widget and open-thread post for the night. Depending on events, we may add in some speeches and reactions later.