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Why is the momentum slowing for both candidates?

Hillary Clinton seems to be running for president because it is her turn. She has paid her dues, and now, it seems, it is her time to run the country.

This perfectly encapsulates the feeling that many, including the candidate herself, surely thought when the race first started: the nomination is almost pre-ordained, because this time there’s no charismatic young senator to steal the show – only an obscure, gray one who embraces an ideology that’s too far from the mainstream of America to catch on.

The opposite was true for Trump. He entered the race with Daily Show host Jon Stewart thanking the comedy gods for bestowing the gift of Trump upon him as he mocked the businessman’s ridiculous entrance to the race and an opening speech that labeled Mexicans “rapists.”

Even after Trump surged in national Republican polls, pundits laughed off his appeal as a summer fling before voters got serious, as happened in 2012 with candidates like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann.

Then he stayed on top, and then he started winning actual contests, and he began to feel inevitable. But now, like Hillary, that sense of inevitability is fading.


First, Clinton and Trump face far different problems, and Trump’s are far more serious. But here is a quick sense of Clinton’s issues:

It’s those last two points that are especially worth noting, because they epitomize this particular election, where voters value authenticity – or at least the appearance of authenticity – so much more than experience. But none of the numbers above are good news, particularly her standing with the independent voters she’ll need to win a general election.

And the same truth that has always hurt Clinton still dogs her today: people just don’t get excited about her, which likely has a lot to do with shifting or simply wrong-headed past decisions (read gay marriage, the Iraq War, and criminal justice), the sense that she represents the past, and the idea that she’s just too comfortable among the elites.

The question is whether any of the above keeps her from ultimately getting the nomination. Her delegate lead is about 1,743 to 1,025 when you add her 469 pledged superdelegates – officials who can vote independently at the convention – and the fact that Democratic primaries are so often awarded proportionally. Not to mention the fact that she has considerable leads in New York and Pennsylvania, two major states with diverse populations. It’s also important to keep in mind that she actually has a substantial lead in the actual number of votes cast — to the tune of about 2.4 million, most likely, according to Politifact’s recent count.

Clinton’s strength – pure delegate math – is now Trump’s weakness. More specifically:

Now, Trump will likely regain some ground in New York and other East Coast states that are soon voting, but you can’t argue that he is experiencing an upswing right now. His unscripted, shoot-from-the-hip method may be catching up to him a bit – and at exactly the time when it’s most crucial for him to deliver.


Image Credit: Wikimedia.CC ASA4.0, Link to Photo