UPDATE at 11:32 a.m. Wednesday, June 8, 2016: See the candidates' latest vote percentages, at the bottom.
He gave it his best shot.
But Sen. Bernie Sanders' tireless tour of the Golden State this month, which attracted fervent young fans to his rock star–level rallies, wasn't enough to overcome Hillary Clinton's appeal for California Democrats in tonight's primary, the biggest in these United States.
Multiple news organizations called the election for Clinton shortly before 3 a.m. The California Secretary of State's office had Clinton leading Sanders 56.4 to 42.6 percent with about 84 percent of the state's precincts partially reporting their results.
The two will still split the state's 475 delegates, nearly one-fifth the total needed nationwide for the Democratic nomination. It wasn't a winner-take-all contest. But even a win wouldn't have helped Sanders much.
Yesterday, the Associated Press declared that Clinton had the delegates she needs to take the nomination. Today, Clinton did a virtual victory lap before California's polls had even closed at 8 p.m.
In a speech earlier tonight, Clinton claimed victory as the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party.
“Tonight belongs to all of you,” she said.
She welcomed Sanders supporters and, invoking the memory of her mother, who endured hardship, turned her attention to Republican nominee Donald Trump.
“She told me to never back down from a bully,” Clinton said, “which it turns out was pretty good advice.”
Sanders enjoyed the support of throngs of young Californians who packed his rallies and sported custom “Bernie” T-shirts. But in the end it wasn't enough.
In March, a Public Policy Institute of California poll had Clinton leading 48 percent to 41 percent among likely Democratic primary voters.
That month a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll had Clinton up 45 percent to 37 percent among registered voters.
Then, a pair of polls this month, including a follow-up USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, had Clinton and Sanders in a statistical dead heat among registered voters.
The polls emboldened Sanders supporters. The senator from Vermont claimed responsibility for strong voter registration among young people and Latinos in the Golden State.
But experts were always wary.
“Bernie Sanders has tapped into a wellspring of support in the Democratic primary over the last several weeks and he’s closing with a rush,” Dan Schnur, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, said last week.
But Schnur explained to us previously that having a vocal, enthusiastic choir behind you doesn't always translate into votes.
“His strongest support by far is among young people,” Schnur said of Sanders. “But young people vote in much smaller percentages than older generations.”
There's still a big contest in November. It's called the presidential election. It needs your vote, even if your guy is no longer in the game. The question is whether young voters inspired by Sanders can keep their heads in a match between two old New Yorkers vying for the most powerful office in the world.
UPDATE at 11:32 a.m. Wednesday, June 8, 2016: With 100 percent of precincts partially reporting, Clinton captured 55.8 percent of the Democratic primary vote, according to the Secretary of State. Sanders' number was at 43.2 percent.