When Hillary Clinton delivers her primary-night remarks on Tuesday after five Eastern states have voted, she’ll be speaking from the Philadelphia Convention Center, a key staging ground for the Democrats’ nominating convention that will occur exactly three months from now. It won’t be the same stage where she expects to formally accept the Democratic nomination—that’s the Wells Fargo Center a few miles away—but it’s close enough for a practice run.
The location and the evening’s results, Clinton hopes, will amplify a signal her campaign has been sending for the last week: The primary race with Senator Bernie Sanders is over, and it’s time to focus on the general election. Clinton is strongly favored to win the two biggest states that will vote on Tuesday, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and to grab a majority of the 328 delegates at stake between them. Sanders could fare somewhat better in Connecticut and Rhode Island, polls show, and it’s anyone’s guess how tiny Delaware will vote. Barring a major surprise, Clinton will end the night closer to clinching the nomination, and Sanders’s already infinitesimal odds of catching her will grow slimmer.
How will Sanders react? The Vermont senator isn’t expected to concede regardless of Clinton’s margin, but Democrats will be watching closely to see if he dials back his attacks on the front-runner as she widens her lead. His advisers have appeared publicly torn over what Sanders should do. The campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, has talked about an all-out effort to finish strong in the primaries and then persuade hundreds of superdelegates to flip their allegiance heading into the convention in Philadelphia. Another senior adviser, Tad Devine, has repeatedly hinted that Sanders might “reevaluate” his position after the Eastern states vote on Tuesday. Whatever Sanders does, expect Clinton to skip any criticism of her primary rival and focus her attacks on Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.