Democrats who thus far have declined to put pressure on Sanders to get out of the race, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, might begin to do so forcefully if Clinton sweeps California and the voting nears an end with the former secretary of state comfortably ahead in pledged delegates, super delegates and the national popular vote.
Clinton supporters are desperate to end the Sanders threat and begin to unify the party while training all available resources on Trump well before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July. The party wants to move quickly to disqualify Trump as a potential commander in chief based while portraying his business success as far less than it appears. They may have fertile ground on the second piece of this effort given that Trump's financial disclosure report appears to inflate both his income and net worth.
But in order to execute this plan, the Clinton campaign and outside groups cannot be spending their time and money trying to hold onto super delegates while Sanders supporters continue to scream that she should not be the nominee.
Democrats also want to take advantage of a period when Trump, who has said he will not attempt to self-finance his general election campaign, may be short of cash and even more reliant than usual on free media. Trump has started raising money but could have a hard time for the next couple of months answering back a scorched-earth Democratic ad campaign against him.
All of this helps explains why Clinton is ditching New Jersey, where she holds a comfortable lead, in favor of barnstorming in California, which will award 475 delegates next week. Win out West and Clinton is golden. Lose and she could get burned.
— Ben White is Politico's chief economic correspondent and a CNBC contributor. He also authors the daily tip sheet Politico Morning Money [politico.com/morningmoney]. Follow him on Twitter @morningmoneyben.