US presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) and Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – New Yorkers are bracing for a rare event on Tuesday: a consequential and hotly contested presidential contest in their home state.
While campaigning has been fierce on both sides of the political aisle, the two candidates who were favored several weeks ago – Republican Donald J. Trump and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, both New York natives – appear to have held on to their leads and are poised for victory, according to recent polls.
Statewide, Trump holds 52 percent of the vote – 30 points over his closest rival, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, according to an average of polls published by RealClearPolitics.
But at this stage in the Republican race, Trump must secure as many pledged delegates as possible – and toward that end, a statewide victory is not enough. He has to win upwards of 50% of the vote in every New York congressional district in order to leave with all of the state’s 95 delegates.
And while a sweep in New York is essential for Trump to hold out hope for an uncontested convention – he currently has 755 delegates, and must secure 1,237 (a majority) – it is only one of several crucial states. Trump must replicate a strong showing in New York with similar performances in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Indiana and California if he is to have any hope of clinching the nomination without a fight.
The strategy of his two opponents – Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – is to chip away at Trump’s victories in those states, to deny him the delegates of former candidates, and to win over delegates in states with quirky rules untethered to primary election results.
Should Trump fail to reach 1,237, the Republican National Convention will meet in Cleveland, Ohio, in July without a nominee. And in consecutive votes on the convention floor, delegates once pledged to candidates based on their state’s election results will become free to vote as they please.
On the Democratic side, former secretary of state and New York senator Hillary Clinton appears favored to win on Tuesday, as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders runs out of places to go to pick up the necessary delegates to surpass her.
Across New York’s wide demographic spectrum, Democratic primary voters who identify as Hispanic or African- American, Protestant or Catholic, male or female, all appear to favor Clinton – comforting figures for a campaign which is headquartered in Brooklyn.
Clinton also leads among Jewish voters, according to an NBC 4 New York/WSJ/Marist poll conducted last week, with 65% of Jewish Democratic primary voters in the state favoring their former senator, versus 32% favoring Sanders.
The same poll shows Clinton with a substantial double-digit lead in New York City, while the two Democrats face closer races in upstate districts.
Clinton has a statistically simple path to the Democratic presidential nomination: Sanders would have to win every remaining state nominating contest, including Tuesday’s primary in New York, by a 10-point margin in order to surpass her in pledged delegates. She also is heavily favored among party “super delegates,” who would have the chance the vote at a convention should neither candidate reach the 2,383 pledged delegates necessary to clinch the party’s nomination.
Clinton currently holds 1,289 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 1,045, and has secured the support of an estimated 469 super delegates to Sanders’s 31.
Sanders acknowledged on Monday that young voters would have to turn out in “very high” numbers for him to win New York. But his victories in small states across the northwest have buoyed the candidate’s confidence, and the Brooklyn-born socialist senator continues to out-fund raise Clinton through the collection of small donations averaging $27.