Candidates Take a Breath and Prepare for What’s Next

An empty ballroom at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., before Donald J. Trump’s victory speech on Tuesday.

By Maggie Haberman – – – – –

The dust continued to settle after last Tuesday’s nominating contests in five states that clarified both parties’ primaries — just not in ways that everyone was happy with.

On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont’s aides were vocal about plans to keep marching on, even after Hillary Clinton added significantly to her delegate lead with her four wins. His team insisted that there was still a path to the nomination and that the coming states would be stronger for him than for her.

Privately, some of Mr. Sanders’s allies expressed frustration with the timing of President Obama’s announcement of his nominee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. The timing, they suggested, seemed intended to remind Democratic voters of the stakes in the 2016 presidential race.

On the Republican side, though the party was focused in large part on responding to Mr. Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland, much of the establishment still appeared unable to process the reality that Donald J. Trump is on a fairly determined march toward the presidential nomination.

Mr. Trump warned of “riots” at the party’s convention in Cleveland in July, amid continuing questions about whether party officials will try to tinker with the rules to help someone else win the nomination if he falls short of the delegate threshold. Mr. Trump is probably correct in predicting that his voters would be infuriated by any such efforts to undo the results of multiple primaries and caucuses.

Mr. Trump, a reality television star whose show “The Apprentice” was based on whittling down contenders, is fond of reminding people that, at one point, there were 17 candidates, most of whom he helped drive from the race. There are now three. Many of those fallen candidates had years of political experience, and teams of pollsters.

Mr. Trump quickly figured out the three issues that were important to the Republican primary electorate: trade, immigration and ending years of George W. Bush-era foreign policy pronouncements. And he did not have a pollster guiding him.

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