US elections: Big prizes up for grabs in New York primary

Empire State could reignite Donald Trump’s White House bid and propel Hillary Clinton

 New York could also inject a new momentum behind the leader in the Republican race, businessman Donald Trump, in his bid to be the party’s nominee. He has 744 delegates to 559 for Texas senator Ted Cruz. Photograph: Christopher Lee/The New York Times

New York could also inject a new momentum behind the leader in the Republican race, businessman Donald Trump, in his bid to be the party’s nominee. He has 744 delegates to 559 for Texas senator Ted Cruz. Photograph: Christopher Lee/The New York Times

 

The second-biggest prize in the Democratic presidential election – and the fourth-biggest in the Republican race – will be up for grabs when primary voters go to the polls in the state of New York today.

There are 247 pledged delegates at stake in the Democratic race on the way to the 2,383 finish line, and 95 in the Republican race to 1,237 delegates. The state will decide whether the former contest has many more states to run and whether the latter will go all the way to the party’s convention in July.

The outcome of the Empire State primary may push the Democratic nomination closer to front-runner Hillary Clinton, who has 1,289 pledged delegates and 469 superdelegates of elected officials and party leaders, and further away from Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator she has been unable to see off, who has 1,045 pledged delegates and 31 superdelegates.

New York could also inject a new momentum behind the leader in the Republican race, businessman Donald Trump, in his bid to be the party’s nominee. He has 744 delegates to 559 for Texas senator Ted Cruz.

Neither party’s front-runner has had a very favourable few weeks. Sanders (74), the self-proclaimed democratic socialist, has won seven of the last eight state-wide contests, while Cruz (45) has chipped away at Trump’s lead by dominating local meetings in Colorado, Wyoming and Georgia that select delegates to vote for the presidential nominee in what is shaping up to be a blockbuster national convention in Cleveland in July.

Big victories

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Trump was born in Queens and runs his business empire out of Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, scene of his escalator-descent launch into the presidential race.

Clinton leads Sanders by almost 13 points, according to the RealClearPolitics election tracking website, though one poll released by Gravis on Sunday showed her advantage had shrunk to as little as six points, a far cry from the 48-point lead Clinton was given in one poll a month ago.

In New York, Trump has a 30-point lead over closest challenger, Ohio governor John Kasich (63). Cruz’s anti-liberal smear, disparaging “New York values”, is hurting him in the state. Lagging his second- place position nationally behind Trump, the senator has given up campaigning there and has turned his attention to the five northeastern states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – that vote a week from today.

Most significantly for Trump, the last three polls put his support at more than 50 per cent, which if replicated in actual voting could see the businessman sweep the state, winning all of New York’s 95 delegates.

If he wins the majority of the vote in each of the state’s 27 congressional districts he will take all three delegates up for grabs in each district. If he surpasses 50 per cent on the popular vote as the state-wide winner, he will take the remaining 14 delegates.

Narrow path

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Trump warned at a rally in Syracuse, New York, on Saturday that the party was in for a “rough July” at the convention should he not be awarded the nomination if he had most delegates but not a majority.

Trump has won 8.2 million votes in the Republican primary to Cruz’s 6.3 million. In a NBC-Wall Street Journal poll on Sunday, 62 per cent of respondents said that if no candidate had reached the 1,237-delegate majority by the convention, the person with the most votes should be the nominee.

Sanders, an independent candidate running as a Democrat, admitted at a rally in Greenwich Village last week that the New York primary would be “a tough race” because independent voters, who helped propel his big victories in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Michigan and Wisconsin, had to register to vote as Democrats in New York’s closed primary in October.

Voters who had never registered before had to apply to become Democrats by March 25th.

A 10-point victory for Clinton in New York would mean that, including super-delegates, Sanders would need 78 per cent of the delegates in the remaining states to reach the magic number of 2,383, a near-impossible task.

“Let’s look at the real poll tomorrow,” he said yesterday when asked about Clinton’s poll lead in New York, the state of his birth.

“We have a message that is resonating all over this country.”