On April 19, the Empire State will hold its Democratic and Republican primary elections and the anticipation is tangible. Though New York primary predictions suggest the state favors frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, anything could happen as both Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz gain momentum. Most recently, numbers calculated by a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll reinforced RealClearPolitics' averages, which suggest Clinton and Trump head the pack by a large margin. At the time of writing, they lead by 14 and 33 points, respectively. But, as the election has proved in the past couple of months, preliminary poll numbers aren't set in stone. For big elections, like that of New York, there are many other factors at play.
After losing eight of the last nine elections against Sanders, New York might just be the light at the end of the tunnel for Clinton. Before becoming Secretary of State in 2009, she served as the Senator of New York for eight years. While running against Barack Obama in hopes of becoming the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee, her history with the state proved immensely advantageous. Though she ultimately lost the nomination to Obama, Clinton won over 57 percent of New York's Democratic vote in that year's primary.
Perhaps more than ever, Clinton's status as an "establishment politician" will strongly work in her favor while campaigning in the state. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn't just endorse Clinton — he campaigned for her. In addition to the governor's support, she has also scored endorsements from New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and countless other leaders and workers' unions in the state. These political connections will translate into votes as well as into support from New York superdelegates. The state has 44 unpledged delegates who are all likely to support their former senator.
Despite Clinton's clear advantage, there's a small possibility Sanders can pull off a surprise win like he did in Michigan on March 8. The New Yorker reported that nearly 18,000 people showed up to his rally in the South Bronx in early April. Sanders' shortage of establishment support sets him apart from Clinton, but it doesn't necessarily work against him. Bill Lipton, the New York director of the progressive Working Families Party, pointed out to The New Yorker's John Cassidy that Sanders is running a unconventional campaign.
This is a different type of campaign ... He has the type of energy we've rarely seen in New York politics, where thousands of people come out for a rally in response to an email. Many of them leave with sheets of paper telling them how to get involved, and the next day they are knocking on doors.
If Sanders has any advantage in the state, it's his ability to mobilize grassroots support, and in recent months, he's been pretty successful. In March, the candidate managed to raise $44 million for his campaign and the majority of that money came from small donations from everyday individuals. At the same time, his appeal to independent grassroots mobilizers aren't guaranteed to translate into votes: New York's primary is closed, requiring voters to identify as either Democrats or Republicans ahead of time. These restrictions will potentially affect the turnout of voters who support Sanders but have never identified with either party.
Unlike the Republican delegation in the state, New York's 247 pledged Democratic delegates will be allocated proportionally according to both the statewide vote and the vote in each congressional district. Though Clinton will likely take home the majority of the delegates, Sanders certainly won't go home empty handed. However, his time to catch up to Clinton's delegate count will become that much shorter.
On the Republican side, Trump has likely secured the state's vote to a greater extent than Clinton has. He can thank Ted Cruz for that one. After winning Iowa's caucus in February, Cruz criticized Trump for his "New York values." As April rolled around, Cruz clung to those comments and reaffirmed his association between "New York values" and liberalism. If New Yorkers really are that liberal, they're not going to vote for arguably the most social conservative candidate in the race.
During a radio interview with AM 970's John Catsimatidis on Sunday, Trump wasn't buying Cruz's justification of his "New York values" comment.
He hates New Yorkers. And he's trying to put a different spin on it now, like he's talking about liberal values.
In fact, John Kasich — who has only won Ohio — has a better chance of beating Trump in New York than Cruz, according to the polls. With such a big lead, both candidates will have a difficult time defeating the frontrunner. If he can swipe all of New York's 95 delegates, Trump will come much closer to securing the 1,243 delegates required for a nomination. He would also effectively dodge a contested convention, much to the dismay of Kasich, who is betting on a second ballot to throw America's vote. Like all productions in New York, expect its primaries to be big.