Hillary Clinton’s decisive victory in North Carolina, along with convincing wins in at least two other states, brought her back to a familiar place Tuesday night. She is once again the inevitable candidate for the Democratic nomination. It’s a status that always seems to trip her up.
Clinton was supposed to knock out Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders early this primary season. Instead she has solidified the nomination the hard way – primary round by primary round. That’s all that counts when the Democratic convention rolls around.
North Carolina showed both her strengths and challenges as a candidate. Exit polls showed her winning fairly easily among women and older voters, and very easily with blacks. Sanders got the younger vote as he has across the country, but he just doesn’t have the depth of support to win a party nomination.
Clinton continues to win in states that have voted Republican in recent elections – including North Carolina – while Sanders got his votes in Democratic strongholds. While that’s a pattern that might trouble some of the left, it also signals that Clinton is the better candidate to gain the moderate votes any president-to-be needs in November.
But while Tuesday was about Clinton pointing herself toward the general election, it also reminded us that she will bring to it some vulnerabilities. In polls leading up to the primary, she showed the same weaknesses in North Carolina as she has in earlier states. Voters don’t particularly trust her, and they’re not much inspired by her, either.
But Tuesday night, Clinton found at least one sure path to bringing people enthusiastically into her corner – taking on Donald Trump hard in her acceptance speech. She sounded like a sure-footed frontrunner once again. On Tuesday, voters showed they finally realize it, too.