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How Winning New York Helped Clinton and Trump

6 minute read

It was a resounding victory for the New York-made frontrunners on Tuesday.

After meditating on pizza and riding the subway, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and real estate mogul Donald Trump steamrolled their opponents by double digits and eyed each other for what appears will be a general election contest of New York proportions.

With nearly all the precincts reporting, Clinton was ahead of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by a larger-than-expected margin of 15 points, and Trump led Ohio Gov. John Kasich by a resounding 35 points. The victors relished the support of their home states: “Thank you, New York!” Clinton said to a screaming crowd at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan that had just sung along to the national anthem. “Thank you, New York, I love you!” Trump tweeted after speaking just a few blocks away at the Trump Tower.

For both, the victories were badly needed.

In the weeks before the New York primary, Clinton suffered a string of defeats, losing seven out of eight contests to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Her lead in pledged delegates slimmed, and she has fallen to within two points of Sanders in national polls.

For Trump, a string of gaffes and the drama of a campaign shakeup meant he needed an overwhelming victory. He lost badly in Wisconsin to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz last month, and his favorability rating sank to new lows.

But Clinton and Trump proved that at least in their home state, they could withstand a withering barrage of criticism from their opponents and media scrutiny, and win by large margins.

They are both believe they will wrap up the nominating contest shortly and face each other in a general election, and considering the results on Tuesday night, that seems likely in both cases.

“In this campaign we’ve won in every region of the country, from the North to the South to the East to the West, but this one’s personal,” Clinton said, appealing to the Democratic Party to unify. “This campaign is the only campaign, Democrat or Republican, to win more than ten million votes.”

Trump won in almost every single county in the state, and in a vast majority of counties with more than 50% of the vote. Though data for congressional districts had not come in by midnight on Tuesday, it appeared likely that Trump would win more than half the vote in a vast majority of congressional delegates, which would grant him a near sweep of the state’s total delegates.

“We’re leading by a lot and we can’t be caught,” Trump said at the Trump Tower shortly after his victory was announced. “It’s impossible to catch us.”

The results fell into a familiar pattern and emphasized both candidates’ strengths. Clinton won all the key population centers in New York, including New York City and its suburbs, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Sanders won a wide swathe of rural districts, ones that are mostly unpopulated and tend to vote Republican, reinforcing a rural-urban divide that has consistently held across the country for the two candidates.

The former Secretary of State also won among voters who wanted an experienced candidate who was most likely to win in a general election, as well as overwhelmingly among African-Americans and Latinos, according to exit polls.

Clinton’s victory was also a reflection of support among the political establishment in New York, which overwhelmingly endorsed her. At her victory rally on Tuesday night at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown, Clinton was introduced by former New York City mayor David Dinkins, current mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Trump reaffirmed his popularity among Republicans who want to see an outsider elected to the White House and overwhelmingly among those who want a candidate who “tells it like it is.” The real estate mogul won 85 percent of voters who said that the most important quality is a candidate who is “outside the Establishment,” according to CNN. But there were some signs of Trump’s vulnerabilities: 42 percent of New York voters said they would be unlikely to vote for him in a general election.

And Trump’s victory in New York will not put to rest the undergirding vulnerability in his campaign, that he has little loyalty among his delegates and could lose the nomination on a second or third round of voting at the Republican convention. Cruz has consistently outmaneuvered Trump in winning loyal delegates to the convention.

At his victory speech on Tuesday, Trump railed against the primary system. “Nobody should take delegates and claim victory unless they get those delegates with voters and voting, and that’s what going to happen,” he said. “Because the people aren’t going to stand for it. It’s a crooked system, it’s a system that’s rigged, and we’re going back to the old way, it’s called ‘you vote and you win.'”

Meanwhile, there is a growing frustration among Clinton campaign officials that Sanders is damaging Clinton’s candidacy by persisting the race, and staff are angry at the Vermont Senator’s acerbic tone. Earlier this month, Sanders said Clinton was unqualified to be president and continued to lambast her Wall Street speeches and donations.

“We believe she is going to win. He has to decide is he going to stay on this destructive path,” communications director Jennifer Palmieri said, “or will he return to running a campaign on issues which he always said he wanted to do?”

On the Democratic side, however some of the results were marred by irregularities. In Brooklyn, where there are some 800,000 registered Democrats, 120,000 people were stricken from the voter rolls, with many forced to file affadavits to vote. The Clinton campaign noted that many of those lost votes were in areas favorable to the former secretary of state—a fact that could further extend her lead.

Whatever happens in the coming days, Clinton and Trump are eager to run against one another in a general election and wrap up their primaries.

“The motto of this state is ‘Excelsior.’ Ever upward,” said Clinton. “So let’s go out and win this election.”

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