Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the Republican primary race on Tuesday night, ending a long and heated battle with businessman Donald Trump.
As The Huffington Post pointed out, Cruz's exit will send reverberations through the presidential race that reach beyond just the Republican party. Not long after Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus declared Trump the inevitable nominee, sources informed A Plus that John Kasich, Trump's final opponent, would also be suspending his campaign.
But unlike Cruz and Kasich, fellow long shot candidate Senator Bernie Sanders seems determined to remain in the running. It's believed Sanders needs a miracle to overcome Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton — so, what is Sanders still doing in the race?
A number of analysts suggest that the Sanders campaign hopes to keep Trump and Clinton — two of the most unpopular candidates in American history — honest and engaged with the issues.
On the Democratic side, 57 percent of voters say they hope Sanders stays in the race until the convention. David Axelrod, a well-known political strategist who worked for President Barack Obama, says Sanders' effect on Clinton can be seen by her growing attention to income inequality and appeals to blue-collar workers.
"You can see in her rhetoric and positioning that Hillary Clinton has heard [Sanders'] message loud and clear," Axelrod told Politico. "It's reflected in her messaging and very specific policies. The challenge is to persuade the skeptical that this will be a genuine focus in the White House and not just a passing political fancy."
Even on the Republican side, some big name conservatives seem interested in finding alternatives to the current presumptive nominee. John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, saw his longtime strategist Mark Salter announce on Twitter that he will support Clinton, not Trump, in 2016. Well-known Christian conservative Ben Howe tweeted out #ImWithHer after Cruz dropped out on Tuesday night. Stuart Stevens, a top strategist for former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, took a similar stance while speaking with The Washington Post.
"I think Donald Trump has proven to be unbalanced and uniquely unqualified to be president. I won't support him," Stevens said. "Everyone has to make their own choice. I think Trump is despicable and will prove to be a disaster for the party. I'd urge everyone to continue to oppose him."
For both Clinton and Trump, having Sanders remain in the race means their attention has to stay divided, and their comments and stances will face an additional level of public scrutiny.
Win or lose, Sanders could still change the future of America.