WTF Happened in the New York Primary, Explained - Rolling Stone
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WTF Happened in the New York Primary, Explained

Frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton struck back in the Empire State

In a 2016 campaign full of unpredictable twists, perhaps most surprising is that “New York values” are in line with the bulk of the nation’s.

The pivotal Empire State primary — odd to write those words — has reversed the momentum of both parties’ underdogs, and given frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton a formidable helping of convention delegates. 

Clinton has been validated by the voters of her adopted home state, who slammed the door on the comeback dreams of Brooklynite Bernie Sanders.

Trump, the native son, may ultimately thank New York for helping him close the biggest deal of his life — and a chance at securing the GOP nomination without a convention fight in Cleveland.

Here’s what you need to know.


How did Trump do it?
There are sub-plots, but we don’t need to dwell on them. Trump took more than 60 percent of the vote. He won nearly every demographic running away, scoring yuuuuge with those with a high school degree or less (69 percent) but also taking New Yorkers with postgraduate degrees (51 percent). Different from elections in red and even purple states, Trump’s support didn’t falter with far-right voters — or at least with those who pass as far-right voters in New York. Trump won self-described “very-conservative” New York Republicans by a margin of 62-27 over Ted Cruz.

What happened to Cruz?
To borrow a line from Dennis Miller when he used to be funny, Cruz got stomped like a narc at a biker rally. The mainstream GOP consolidation behind the senator that appeared to be taking shape after the Wisconsin primary came undone. The New York #NeverTrump bloc preferred former Lehman Brothers banker John Kasich, 25 to 15 percent, over the Texan who mocked their state’s values.

New York’s winner-take-nearly-all apportionment gives only second-place finishers in each congressional district a shot at picking up delegates. Cruz was shut out on the night. He lost so badly that Trump didn’t even feel the need to call him “Lyin’ Ted” in his victory speech, adopting a more civil tone to inform supporters that “Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.” 

Does this mark a Kasich resurgence?
Kasich won bragging rights, defeating Trump in his home borough of Manhattan. But delegate-wise, not so much: Kasich scored only a handful of delegates — five of New York’s 95 — with one still to be determined.

But we’re still on for a contested convention in July, right?
Chaos in Cleveland remains a likely outcome. But after hauling in nearly 90 delegates, Trump has a clearer shot at securing the critical 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright.

As Twitter’s go-to delegate counter @Taniel put it: “For Trump to get 1237, everything needed to go well in NY, PA, MD, DE, CT, WV, IN, NJ, CA. He checks off NY—& looks strong in next 4.”

The climb is still steep: Trump now needs to win about 63 percent of the remaining bindable delegates. But if New York signals that Kasich and Cruz continue to split the anti-Trump vote going forward, the Donald’s path to victory could be far less rocky than it looked just two weeks ago.


It’s Hillary, then?
It’s been Hillary for a while. But now it’s really Hillary.

Momentum- and math-wise, Sanders needed to upend Clinton in New York to keep his shot at a viable comeback alive. Instead, Clinton won comfortably, by a margin of nearly 250,000 votes in the state that made her a senator, besting Bernie 58 to 42 percent.

Clinton won big throughout New York City — including a blowout in the Bronx, 70 to 30. Clinton also did very well among affluent voters in a wealthy state: 30 percent of primary voters have incomes above $100,000, and among this group Clinton nabbed six votes in 10.

Calling her own horse race in her speech to supporters, Clinton declared: “The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight.”

Why didn’t Bernie win? What about his giant rallies?
New York is a closed primary, and Sanders just isn’t that popular among rank-and-file Democrats. There are a lot of moderate Democrats in New York, nearly 30 percent, and Clinton took 67 percent of them.

Sanders won 72 percent of self-styled independents, but they comprised just 18 percent of the Empire State electorate. New York’s restrictive voting laws deserve some of the blame for that. The state disallowed changes to party registration after October of last year.

New York voters also know Clinton and like her resume, and even an ad blitz that saw Sanders outspend Clinton by $3 million couldn’t shift voters’ minds: Clinton won 91 percent of those looking for a candidate with the right experience and 85 percent of those who wanted the strongest candidate for November.

Did the exit polls teach us anything new?
New York’s amazing diversity offers more data to slice and dice than most states. Sanders continued to struggle with black voters, winning just one in four. He did somewhat better among Hispanics, scoring 36 percent. But Sanders did very well among a little celebrated minority group: atheists. A full 25 percent of New York Democratic primary voters told exit pollsters their religion is “None”; these voters swung for Sanders 57 to 43.

Is Bernie pressing on?
It seems so. And he could do quite well in upcoming elections like Pennsylvania; Sanders scored 58 percent of the rural/upstate vote in New York, a result that bodes well for him in the neighboring Keystone state.

Is Sanders just hurting the Democratic cause at this point?
Not according to New Yorkers: Two-thirds of Democratic voters believe the extended primary process has left the party “energized.”


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