Trump holds strong lead in New York, Clinton-Sanders race tightens

by Apr 14, 2016Elections0 comments

Posted on April 8, 2016 by Palmer Gibbs

Despite critical losses in the recent Wisconsin primary, businessman Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continue to hold double-digit leads in New York, according to the most recent polling data available from RealClearPolitics.

The site of the next major primary for both parties, New York is a delegate-rich hunting ground for the remaining five presidential hopefuls. Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are fighting for the 291 available Democratic delegates, while Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich jockey for the 95 available Republican delegates.

Unlike a handful of recent contests, the April 19 New York primary is not winner-take-all, meaning that a second- or third-place finish could allow a candidate to pick up some delegates. That’s good news for Cruz and Kasich, who are down in the polls but could still add to their overall delegate tally with a strong showing in the Empire State.

As the InsideGov visualization shows, Trump polls at a strong 53 percent as of April 6. Kasich holds a slight lead over Cruz, 22 percent to 18.6 percent.

Trump, a New York native who lives in Manhattan in his eponymous high-rise apartment building, hosted a large and boisterous rally on Long Island on Wednesday. News outlets reported more than 15,000 people attended the event, and protesters outside were met with police outfitted in riot gear.

Kasich, who has kept his slight lead over Cruz for about two weeks, recently made a more low-key stop in the Bronx, where several hundred people gathered as Kasich got lunch at an Italian deli. At the beginning of the week, Kasich did two town halls on Long Island, where he shot back at Trump, who has been calling on Kasich to drop out of the race. Last weekend, Trump told reporters: “All [Kasich is] doing is just, he goes from place to place, and loses, and he keeps running. … Now if he wants to go and have his name put in nomination in the convention, he can do that. He doesn’t have to run and take my votes. Because he’s taking my votes. He’s not taking Cruz’s votes. He’s taking my votes.”

But it was Cruz who got an up-close dose of feedback from New York protesters. Cruz made waves in January when he dissed Trump with a comment about “New York values.” Protesters singled out that phrase, as well as Cruz’s stringent immigration stance, during the Texan’s visit to Sabrosura, a Latino-Chinese restaurant in the Bronx.

After his decisive win in Wisconsin earlier this week, Cruz called it a “turning point” in the GOP nomination contest. However, Cruz is still far away from the finish line — he has 517 pledged delegates, of the 1,237 needed to win the nomination.

Despite being significantly short of the goal, Cruz (and Kasich, for that matter) continue to fight for every last delegate. The aim is, of course, to bolster their own delegate count, but it’s also to splinter as many delegates as possible away from Trump’s tally. In that respect, the Republican race has turned into a creativity contest on how to keep Trump from the finish line.

Cruz, for his part, is fighting tooth-and-nail for a handful of delegates in Louisiana, which held its primary March 5, and in Colorado, which this weekend hosts a state convention rather than a primary or caucus. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race on March 15, reportedly is lobbying the delegates he won to stick with him until the Republican convention in July. If Rubio keeps his delegates, that could put up a roadblock in Trump’s path to the nomination.

Indeed, after Cruz won in Wisconsin, odds increased for a contested convention, where delegates vote onsite for their preferred candidate. Winning in that scenario requires a highly coordinated and connected effort, often in concert with party operatives. That’s not a strength of the Trump campaign, which is disliked strongly by many establishment Republicans.

Although the Republican race has been more contentious and headline-grabbing than the Democratic contest so far, things took a sharp turn in recent weeks between Clinton and Sanders.

Clinton has been more open in her expressions of frustration lately. Sanders told a crowd at Temple University in Philadelphia this week that he doesn’t think Clinton is “qualified” to be president. And Sanders’ campaign manager swiped at Clinton’s ambition as divisive for the Democratic Party during a CNN interview. “Don’t destroy the Democratic Party to satisfy the secretary’s ambitions to become president of the United States,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager. “We want to have a party at the end of this that we can unify.”

With a tightening race in New York, look for the heated back-and-forth to continue. As has often been the case this cycle, Clinton held a massive lead in the state for weeks until Sanders chipped away at it. On March 30, Clinton held a 34.5-point lead. Within five days, Sanders cut it to an 11-point lead, according to polling averages.

Momentum, fundraising, enthusiastic crowds — it’s all in Sanders’ favor in the run-up to the New York primary. Sanders has won six of the last Democratic contests, and out-fundraised Clinton for the third month in a row, according to news reports. But, much like the scenario that’s playing out on the Republican side, delegate math is complicating Sanders’ path to the nomination.

Clinton’s early-on and decisive wins — in Texas on Super Tuesday and her five-state sweep on Super Tuesday II, for example — gave her a critical boost of delegates. She has 1,280 delegates to Sanders’ 1,030.

But that margin increases when accounting for superdelegates, which considerably pad Clinton’s lead. Of the 2,383 delegates needed to win the party’s nomination, Clinton has 1,749 total delegates and Sanders has 1,061.

After the New York vote on April 19, another batch of primaries take place in the Northeast on April 26. For Republicans, 172 delegates will be up for grabs that day, while 462 delegates will be in play for Democrats.

More: What Prediction Markets Say About the Bernie Hype

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