Editor’s Note: This post was written by Eric Brower, Cody Ingraham, and McKenzie Franck.
On April 19, New York voters will go to the polls for the state’s presidential primary. Normally, this late in the primary calendar, New York’s results do not play a huge role in the final nomination of a party’s candidate, as a clear favorite from each side to win the nomination usually exists. However, 2016 shows competition on both the Republican and Democratic tickets. The Republican Party comes into New York with Donald Trump leading the delegate count, followed by Ted Cruz, then John Kasich. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton holds a healthy delegate lead over Bernie Sanders, but Sanders refuses to concede amid continuing strong showings in many states. New York is a delegate-rich state with 247 pledged delegates for the Democrats and 95 for the Republicans, making it a handsome prize for whoever is able win the state. Here are our predictions for tomorrow’s Empire State primaries:
In the Republican race, expect Donald Trump to steal the show yet again. The Republican candidates have each campaigned in New York State in order to attempt to improve their primary showing. Trump has spent the most amount of time within New York State, making appearances in Albany, Rochester, New York City, and other locations. This recent bout of campaigning in the Empire State will increase Trump’s already high chances of winning the state. Kasich has also spent a considerable amount of time in New York State. This is helping him to spread his message and to rise in the polls. Cruz, on the other hand, has not spent that much time campaigning in New York State. This is because Cruz is not likely to win New York’s primary due to his ideology and comments about “New York values”.
Upstate, Trump will do very well. Upstate New York features many Republicans who feel disenfranchised by the state’s Democratic downstate and urban areas dictating much of the state’s politics. Additionally, many New Yorkers have become angry and disillusioned due to the seemingly constant corruption from the state’s politicians. Demonstrating this attitude, 81% of New York Republicans believed America is on the wrong track in a recent Siena College poll. Also in Trump’s favor are the Rust Belt regions of New York such as Buffalo, Rochester, and parts of Central New York. Trump has performed relatively well among Rust Belt Republicans in past contests. Many polls have Trump at 50% or more heading into Primary Day.
John Kasich will likely be the runner-up in New York’s primary. Kasich is a more progressive and moderate Republican who will ideologically connect with the New York Republicans better than Ted Cruz. However, Kasich’s impossibility of winning the nomination will likely scare voters who fear wasting their vote toward Cruz, who is at a closer competitive distance to Trump. Cruz’s highly conservative and Christian ideologies do not match those of many New York Republicans. However, Republicans who want to stop Trump, and realize the impossibility of Kasich winning the nomination, may be inclined to give Cruz their votes. There will likely be some level of voter cannibalization between the two, which will keep both of their totals down. Both Cruz and Kasich needs as many delegates as possible in order to show they are still running viable campaigns, or at least get in the way of Trump’s path to the nomination. Trump needs to win New York because it is his home state and his reputation is on the line.
The rules for the Republican primary will certainly have a major effect on the number of delegates awarded to each candidate. In New York, 95 delegates are at stake – 81 allocated by the vote in each of the state’s 27 Congressional districts (3 each) and 14 statewide at-large delegates. The winner of a district receives two delegates and the runner-up one, however, a candidate must receive 20% of the vote in the district in order to qualify for delegates. This makes it possible for one candidate to win all three delegates in a district should that candidate exceed the 50% threshold within the district, triggering a winner-take-all scenario. The at-large delegates are proportionally awarded based on statewide results unless a candidate gets over 50% of the statewide popular vote, in which case, the candidate wins all 14 of the delegates.
These rules will likely play to the favor of Trump. Trump is expected to do well in many areas of the state which will help him to accumulate delegates very quickly by winning two and three from many districts. Additionally, Trump will likely win over 50% of the statewide popular vote and thus clinch all 14 of the at-large delegates. Kasich will likely fare better than Cruz in most cases and win a single delegate from multiple districts. Cruz will likely be shut out from delegates in many districts due to an inability to be in the top two.
On the Democratic side of the primary, Hillary Clinton will likely add another victory over Bernie Sanders, ending his recent streak of seven straight victories. What makes this race so noteworthy is how each candidate claims their New York roots as their ticket to victory. Clinton and Sanders seemingly have tried to “out New-York” each other in anticipation of the primary. Clinton’s support will largely come from those who supported her in her senatorial races in 2000 and 2006. Clinton’s home in Chappaqua has kept Clinton’s claims to New York tangible, while she also claims roots in Arkansas and Illinois. Sanders, Brooklyn-born and -raised, has used his family and childhood home as his claim to true New York values.
In New York State, many Democratic Party leaders have endorsed Clinton. Both local politicians and major New York political figures have been vocal in their support of her in the past few weeks including: Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Charles Schumer, and Congressman Paul Tonko. These major endorsements will ultimately help Clinton win the New York Primary due to an appearance of broad appeal among key high-profile elected officials. Sanders has not had as many notable endorsements from politicians, however he has had some other powerful endorsements including some of New York’s neighbor Vermont.
Both Clinton and Sanders have been utilizing different strategies to get the votes they need in the Empire State. A big comparison has recently been made between Sanders’ campaign and the campaign of Zephyr Teachout, 2014 gubernatorial primary challenger to Governor Cuomo. Reportedly, numerous 2014 Teachout workers have joined Sanders campaign. Teachout and Sanders have similar appeals as candidates since both have run as more liberal alternatives to a moderate, establishment candidate.
Clinton and Sanders have both spent a reasonable amount of time campaigning in New York State. Clinton, however, started campaigning in New York earlier then Bernie Sanders did. She has also spent a considerable amount of time in both Upstate and Downstate New York. This could put her at more of an advantage because she has been able to reach out to voters in a variety of congressional districts, unlike Sen. Sanders. It has become clear that strategies used by Clinton and Sanders have translated to both campaigns crisscrossing the state for support. Clinton, New York’s former senator, has been making more visits to cities, notably New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. Meanwhile, Sanders has taken the approach of visiting more rural areas including the 19th Congressional District being sought by Teachout.
New York’s racial demographics will also favor Clinton. African Americans make up a sizable proportion of the state’s total population. In New York City, African Americans constitute almost 30% of the city’s total population. Hispanics are another group that make up a large proportion of New York. In 2010, New York was ranked one of the states with the highest number of Hispanics. A majority of the Hispanic population is in downstate New York.
Consequently, Clinton is likely to perform well in Downstate New York because of the large African American and Hispanic populations. Clinton has been known to be favored by African Americans and Hispanics because of her policies focused on aiding minorities. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is most likely going to win areas within Upstate New York because the population in that area features many white, working class people. Bernie Sanders has been know to have difficulties attracting votes from diverse racial groups.