Trump and Clinton score towering victories in Empire State

Success of New York primaries pushes front-runners closer to party nominations

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks following victory in the New York state primary: his 60 per cent score in New York State was his highest level of support in his campaign so far. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks following victory in the New York state primary: his 60 per cent score in New York State was his highest level of support in his campaign so far. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

 

“Today you proved there’s no place like home,” an ecstatic Hillary Clinton told supporters in a Manhattan hotel in her adopted home state after romping to victory in New York’s Democratic presidential primary.

“The race for the nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight,” said Clinton as the crowd erupted at the Times Square Sheraton.

Donald Trump, the made-in-Manhattan billionaire, banked his own home-state victory. Blocks away, he walked into his election night party in the lobby of Trump Tower, his New York skyscraper where he launched his presidential bid to such ridicule, to Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York and the words “king of the hill/top of the heap” blasting over the speakers.

“We’re going to go into the convention I think as the winner,” he said, confident that he would win the public votes leading to the majority of delegates he requires to avoid a convention fight in Cleveland in July.

Tuesday’s election in New York, the second biggest contest in the Democratic race and the fourth biggest in the Republican primary, pushed Clinton and Trump ever closer to being the respective party nominees to face each other in the presidential ballot on Tuesday, November 8th.

The glow of Trump’s 35-point victory may have dimmed in the morning-after realisation that Ohio governor John Kasich, a distant third in the race and a candidate considered a gadfly by Trump with just one state win, took Manhattan, the place Trump calls home. He beat the billionaire by 858 votes, or three percentage points, among the 24,887 Republicans who voted there. This was the only county that Trump lost across the entire state.

Still, Trump’s 60 per cent score in New York State was his highest level of support in his campaign so far, reaching a majority for the first time as this baffling Republican game approaches its final quarter of play.

Percentages matter, of course, but it’s the maths around the delegates who will formally name the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates that are being tracked most closely.

The decisive Trump and Clinton victories emphatically answered questions around the candidacies, tightened their grips on the nomination and closed the window even further on their chief rivals – Texas senator Ted Cruz in Trump’s case and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in Clinton’s. But neither did they hand them enough delegates to confirm their victories.

Trump’s victory handed him at least 89 of the 95 delegates at stake in New York and extended his lead over Cruz to 301 delegates (844 to 543), according to the Associated Press’s score chart, as he closes in on the 1,237 he requires to be formally named as the nominee in Cleveland.

The Empire State mathematically ended Cruz’s chances of being a first-ballot nominee. He had a dreadful primary, ending up with no delegates.

New York showed that Trump could expand his base beyond the blue-collar workers that have turned this outsider into a serious contender.

Exit polls show that, as before, majorities of angry Republicans, fed up with the government who wanted someone outside the establishment, plumped for Trump. Despite Kasich’s win in liberal Manhattan, Trump beat the Ohio politician among moderates and college-educated voters.

In her 16-point win, Clinton extended her own support base, drawing level with Sanders among white voters and adding to her support among ethnic minorities. She increased her delegate lead by 33, leaving Sanders requiring big wins in big states – a tall order given where the polls are.

The democratic socialist performed well among younger voters but almost six in every 10 of New York’s Democratic voters were over the age of 45 and Clinton won this age group by 65 per cent to 35 per cent. Voters saw her as more electable, believing by a margin of two-to-one that she had a better chance than Sanders of beating Trump in the head-to-head election.

And that is where Clinton is focusing her attention. Coming after a bruising two weeks when the Democratic primary took a decidedly nasty turn, she attempted to patch up the differences with fired-up grassroots Democrats who are “feeling the Bern”.

“To all the people who supported senator Sanders: I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us,” she said on Tuesday night.

Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri appeared to express the frustration of her campaign team at the continuing presence of Sanders when she questioned whether he was going “to stay on this destructive path where he’s making personal character attacks”.

Even if he has little prospect of winning the nomination, Sanders could handicap Clinton for the general election campaign by insisting on fighting her all the way to party’s national convention in Philadelphia in July.

More northern and eastern states, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware, vote next Tuesday in primaries that should say for certain whether it will be Trump versus Clinton in November. Otherwise it will go all the way to California on June 7th with an important stop for the Republican candidates in Indiana on May 3rd.

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