This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.
After cordially putting up with competition from less prominent #Democrats, #HillaryClinton should have locked up the nomination weeks, if not months, ago. #DonaldTrump, who felled senators, governors, and fellow outsiders with ease, should have already seized the Republican crown.
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Instead, both front-runners have found themselves fending off competition far too long for their taste. As the party conventions draw nearer, they are banking on #NewYork to bring order to the entropy of this U.S. primary race.
Empire State voters hit the polls on Tuesday, starting at 6 a.m., after days of intense focus from the presidential candidates. For Trump and Clinton, both New Yorkers themselves, this race could be the end of weeks-long losing streaks that have emboldened their opponents. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders racked up wins in Wisconsin and the West. Chatter about a contested Republican convention grew loud, and Clinton’s lead has been constantly challenged by questions about how long Sanders could stay in the race.
New York, though, looks like it could give Clinton and Trump back some much-needed mojo. Though polling this cycle hasn’t always been reliable, recent surveys show Clinton and Trump with strong leads. If they snag big wins in the delegate-rich state, they could argue their opponents’ successes were aberrations and not reflective of the larger contest.
Clinton’s lead isn’t as wide as Trump’s. According to a RealClearPolitics average, she’s got roughly 12 points on Sanders, whose home borough of Brooklyn houses her campaign headquarters. While both candidates can call themselves New Yorkers, Clinton probably has the home-field advantage. In recent days, she’s gone hard touting her record as a two-term New York senator on the trail. Clinton also has the backing of high-profile public officials like Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as the state’s major labor unions. Nevertheless, Sanders is attracting attention. More than 25,000 people reportedly showed up to a rally he held in Manhattan last week.
Democratic candidates are bound to be popular in New York, a true-blue state with much of its population concentrated in stereotypically liberal New York City and its suburbs. Where they’ll do well varies, though. Clinton-related predictions are based in part on her own electoral history–where she did well as a Senate and presidential candidate in past cycles. She is expected to see success in New York City, with its many minority voters; in the suburbs of Westchester County, where she lives; and on Long Island. Sanders, by contrast, could do better upstate, with its predominantly white and rural voters, and in more progressive parts of the city, like the Upper West Side and neighborhoods of Brooklyn. He, like Trump, could be hamstrung by the state’s closed primary, which restricts voting to registered Democrats and #Republicans. Independents would’ve had to re-register back in October to vote on Tuesday.
On the Republican side, Trump has a cozy lead. He’s got the “strongholds” of New York City, Western New York state, and Long Island, and he’s practically Staten Island’s patron saint. But what’s even more interesting than Trump’s home-state popularity is how his opponents’ campaigns in the state have shaken out. John Kasich, the moderate-ish governor of Ohio, is polling in second behind Trump, while Ted Cruz is far behind. The Wall Street Journal described Kasich as “relishing his second-place polling status.” These numbers bolster the argument Kasich has been making all along: He can do better in non-red states than Cruz, the so-called establishment’s last-ditch hope for beating Trump.
Cruz, who’s won far more states than Kasich, isn’t counting on New York. His typical jabs about “New York values” won’t play there, and the state doesn’t have many of the evangelical voters he has come to rely on. Already, he’s moved on to states voting later in April. For anti-Trumpers, Tuesday’s goal will be to prevent the billionaire from taking all of the state’s delegates. New York is a not a winner-take-all contest, so each candidate has the chance to win some delegates; snagging most or all 95 would be a boon to the front-runner. But Trump, for his part, seems to be feeling positive. He’s already scheduled a press conference for Tuesday night from Trump Tower, the place where he launched his campaign. He only does that, it seems, when he feels a big win coming on.