LOS ANGELES—The history was impossible to ignore. So was the math.
After The Associated Press' declaration that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had secured enough delegates to earn the title of “presumptive Democratic nominee," much of the online reaction focused on the gender milestone.
Clinton is positioned to be the first woman in American history to earn the major party nomination for president, and may break one more barrier after that.
But not everyone was ready to concede. Bernie Sanders supporter and New York Daily News columnist Shaun King suggested that the AP's call for Clinton was flawed:
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 7, 2016
Some accused the media of purposely misleading the public:
— #JillNotHill (@panegron) June 7, 2016
One person even tweeted as much to me directly:
In reality, none of the criticism of the AP holds up. Clinton is 3 million votes ahead of Sanders in the Democratic primaries. Even if she doesn’t win here in California, which holds its primary on Tuesday, New Jersey appears likely to go for her. Even if the AP hadn't made its call, and even if Clinton lost both primaries, she'd almost certainly win enough delegates to put her over the top.
But what about the superdelegates, you may ask?
It is true that Clinton will not become the nominee until the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next month. But it's a big stretch to believe that superdelegates will overrule the will of the people, who have overwhelmingly voted for the former New York senator.
Sanders' mantra has been that he is for the people and will challenge “the establishment,” be it Wall Street, money in politics, or government corruption, with bulldog tenacity. The problem is that, despite the imperfections of the Democratic primary system, Sanders, an independent, chose to run for the Democratic nomination. Then-Sen. Barack Obama ran under the same system and defeated Clinton. He, too, was an underdog. And, like Sanders, he admitted the challenges of taking on the political juggernaut that is Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Obama needed superdelegates, too. At one point during the 2008 primaries, prominent black politicians were backing Clinton. But after Obama began winning most of the black vote (especially black women) during the primaries, they were pressured to recommit to Obama. Rep. John Lewis was among the first to switch his allegiance. Why? Because the people said so.
It would have been odd for Lewis to vote for Clinton, even though his constituents backed Obama. But that is what Sanders is asking superdelegates to do: overrule the people.
We still have the California primary, and it is indeed a close race here. But all of the math, no matter how you calculate it, has Clinton well ahead of Sanders, regardless of what happens on Tuesday. Critics on social media are correct to question the process by which the AP drew its conclusions. But the math AP came up with mirrors the conclusions of other media outlets. And it adds up in Clinton’s favor.
That’s not a lie; it’s arithmetic.
Eventually, Sanders will come to accept that, whether it's in California or Philadelphia.
Terrell Jermaine Starr is National Political Correspondent for Fusion. You can follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.