New York Primary: A Preview

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It has been two weeks since the main presidential primary challengers routed their respective party frontrunners in Wisconsin. Because of the resounding victories by Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, for the first time in decades, New York matters again in a presidential election year.

New York has been uncontested in the general election since it is an overwhelmingly democratic state; last going to a GOP presidential candidate in Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide victory. And because it is so late on the calendar, New York hasn’t been contested in the primaries very much either, as candidates from both parties typically have the nomination wrapped up by this point.

For Donald Trump, New York is crucial for him to get back on his feet after a series of media and electoral setbacks over the last few weeks. For Hillary Clinton, it is a chance for her to once again prove she is a strong frontrunner whose string of recent losses were the result of the calendar and not a sign she is limping to the finish line.

New York is the home state to both Trump and Clinton. If they are to reassert themselves in this race, this is the place to do it. If not, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders will start to think if they can win here, they can win anywhere.

Tonight, it’s up to you, New York. New York!

Here is a preview.

Republicans

Who votes: Closed primary.

Poll closings: Polls will close at 9:00 p.m. EST.

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 95 total delegates available: 81 awarded by district on a winner-take-most basis; 14 awarded statewide on a winner-take-most basis; 20% vote threshold to receive district and statewide delegates.

Three delegates are assigned to each of New York’s 27 congressional districts. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, that candidate is awarded all three of the district’s delegates. If no candidate receives a majority of the district vote, two delegates will be awarded to the candidate with the most votes, and one will be awarded to the runner-up provided they receive more than 20% of the vote.

The allocation of New York’s statewide delegates is exactly the same. All 14 delegates will be awarded to a candidate if he finishes with more than 50% of the statewide vote. If not, the delegates are distributed proportionally to the candidates who receive more than 20% of the statewide vote.

Preview: Donald Trump has had a rough go of it of late. He had an onslaught of bad media coverage in the weeks leading up to the April 5 Wisconsin Primary; where he suffered a 13% beat down at the hands of Ted Cruz. Trump has also been badly out-hustled and out-organized by Cruz in getting loyal delegates to this summer’s convention. Read this for more information on how Cruz is getting supporters elected as convention delegates in states all across the country, even states Trump has won.

But tonight, Trump has a chance to bounce back. He has been relatively quiet in terms of controversial statements over the last week. Yes, he is complaining about how the system is rigged against him, but there have been no offensive comments about any specific group, gender, or issue. Add this to the fact he is expected to win his home state, and win it big, and Trump will start to get some positive coverage again.

Polls show Trump with a huge lead over Ted Cruz and John Kasich. The only question remaining is how many delegates he will wind up with once the votes are counted. That number will prove critical since Trump has an increasingly narrow path to getting a majority of delegates to lock up the nomination. Remember, only 14 statewide delegates are available. So if Trump is going to take home a large share of the delegates tonight, he will have to do it on the district level.

Republican polling firm Optimus Consulting recently did a poll of the state and each congressional district. The poll was taken from April 11 to April 14 and it suggests Trump is on the borderline of a really good night and a disappointing night overall.

Trump is over 50% in the districts that make up Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, and New York City suburban areas like Rockland and Westchester Counties. These make up 11 total congressional districts (1-6, 8, 11, 14, 17, 18) and would give Trump an additional 33 delegates as he would win three from each district by virtue of being over the 50% mark.

He leads in the state’s remaining 16 districts but is under 50% in all of them; meaning he would receive two delegates from these districts; 32 total.

Trump’s weakest areas are districts that encompass Manhattan, where voters are among the most educated, and wealthiest in the country. He is also polling lower in the districts that include Albany and Syracuse. These are areas where John Kasich and Ted Cruz have spent a significant amount of time over the last couple of weeks.

So let’s assume Trump wins all 14 of the statewide delegates by getting over 50% of the vote, and that the district polling done by Optimus is correct. If this is the case, Trump will walk away with an additional 65 district delegates for a total of 79. Which would be a pretty good night.

As I noted above, however, there are a number of borderline districts where Trump is either slightly above or below the 50% mark. In five districts, he is one to three points above 50%; 1 and 4 (Long Island), 5 (Queens), 17 (Rockland/Westchester County), and 18 (Yonkers). On the other side of the coin, he is one to three points under 50% in another five; 9 (Brooklyn), 16 (North Bronx), 19, 26 (Buffalo/Niagara Falls), 27 (Buffalo and Rochester suburbs). Depending on how these numbers shift, Trump could be leaving a number of delegates on the table to Cruz and/or Kasich. Or Trump could receive a surge of support and pad his numbers.

It may not seem like a lot given the difference is between winning two delegates in a district or three. But with his path to 1,237 before the convention getting smaller, Trump needs every single delegate he can get.

Democrats

Who votes: Closed primary.

Poll closings: Polls will close at 9:00 p.m. EST.

Delegate Allocation & Thresholds: 291 total delegates available: 247 pledged delegates; 44 unpledged superdelegates. 163 awarded by district; 84 awarded statewide; 15% threshold to receive delegates at either the state or district level.

163 delegates will be awarded from New York’s 27 congressional districts on a proportional basis; provided a candidate receives over 15% of the vote.

Same criteria for the 84 available at-large delegates. They are allocated proportionally to the candidates who receive at least 15% of the vote.

Preview: Bernie Sanders is on quite a winning streak coming into New York. Since he lost Arizona to Clinton on March 22, Sanders has won the last seven contests. His biggest win coming in Wisconsin. Does this winning streak signify a wave of newfound momentum for Bernie? Not really.

He was mostly the beneficiary of the calendar where states that play to his strengths had contests one right after the other. But he won them nonetheless and is hoping to carry his streak to a major upset victory in the state Clinton represented as a Senator from 2001 to 2009.

Unfortunately for Bernie and Co., now we are in a state that plays to the strengths of Hillary Clinton. In addition to being the state she served as a Senator, New York is a closed primary, and far more diverse than the states Sanders won in the lead up to tonight. Clinton also won big here in her 2008 primary battle with Barack Obama.

Despite his insistence to the contrary, barring a Michigan-sized miss in the polling, Sanders’ winning streak will be stopped tonight. And if said polls are any indication, it will be stopped emphatically.

Sanders is expected to do well in some of the upstate areas where cities and towns like Buffalo have been affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs over the years. And a Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll confirms this; showing Sanders beating Clinton in Upstate New York by a slim 50% to 49% margin.

Unfortunately for Sanders, there are two problems with this poll. First, he should be beating her upstate by a margin larger than 1%. Second, even if he increases that margin a few points tonight, upstate democrats only represent 31% of the primary voters in New York. The rest of them are in New York City and the surrounding suburban areas. And according to the same Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll, Clinton is beating Sanders by a margin of 60% to 36% in New York City and its suburban areas. Good luck overcoming that.

New York is likely to continue the pattern we have seen throughout the Democratic Primary this year. It is a heavily populated, diverse state with a large number of delegates at stake; and Clinton will win, by a lot, and continue to add to her pledged delegate lead. Sanders, meanwhile, will continue to struggle in states like this but will keep racking up victories in primaries that are sparsely populated, less diverse, and with a smaller number of delegates at stake.

Hillary knows she not only needs to win New York, but she needs to win it going away. She is not making the same mistake she made in Michigan where she took the polls for granted and allowed Sanders to barnstorm the state largely unchallenged on his way to an upset victory.

Clinton has basically spent the last few weeks as if she were running for her old Senate seat again. She has been all across the state, speaking with voters about a number of state, local, and national issues; namely her support of Gov. Cuomo’s successful passage of a $15-per-hour state minimum wage. She even took the subway after she managed to get through the turnstile.

She is leaving nothing to chance and it will likely pay off with a resounding victory in her adopted home state.

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