by Max Cea
The New York presidential primaries were held yesterday. Though the results were not particularly surprising – a big win for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side, and a bigger win for Donald Trump on the Republican side – they were meaningful.
Hillary Clinton won approximately 58 percent of the state, adding 135 delegates to her tally (now 1,887, including superdelegates; she needs to get to 2,383), and much-needed momentum to her campaign. She did so predominantly by winning what one might call “downstate New York” – the area south of Orange County (the only exception being Putnam, which favored Sanders by a percent).
The results in Rockland largely mirrored the results in New York State. More than 42,000 people turned out to vote, two thirds of whom were voting Democratic. Hillary Clinton won that race 60-40. Meanwhile, about 6 in 10 (62%) Republicans voted for Donald Trump. Kasich and Cruz were a close second and third; neither candidate finished with more than 3,000 votes out of the total 14,000 Republican ballots.
“Today proved once again, there’s no place like home,” Clinton said with a laugh – which might have sounded uncannily like the Wicked Witch of the East or West depending on how you filled in your ballot – during her victory speech, adding the consolation to Sanders supporters that, “I think there is much more that unites us than divides us.”
It likely was tough for many Sanders supporters to find solace in her effort to unite the left – less because of the two candidates’ differences, and more because of the obstacles that some faced in actually casting a ballot. In Brooklyn, as confirmed by the Board of Elections, and reported by The New York Times, “more than 125,000 Democratic voters… were dropped between November and this month, while about 63,000 were added — a net loss that was not explained.”
Many others were unable to vote because of a perfectly legal, systemic reason: New York’s closed primary. The system, in which voters had to have registered with a party by October of 2015, inspired frustrations among voters. “I think the voter restrictions in New York are crooked and dumb,” 23-year-old Valley Cottage-born, Brooklyn resident Caroline Cummings posted to Facebook on April 18. “Why can’t I have a say tomorrow because I don’t identify as a member of the two main parties? Third party girls have feelings too, ya know?”
Sanders was as perturbed as his would-be voters. “Some three million New Yorkers were unable to vote today because they were registered as independents,” he said. “That makes no sense to me.”
Independents’ absent ballots were less relevant on the Republican side, which wound up being a drubbing of similar proportions to the Rockland results. Donald Trump won 60 percent of the vote, accruing 89 delegates; he’s now at 845 total (he needs 1,237 to clinch the nomination). The only district Trump didn’t win was Manhattan, which happens to be home to Trump Towers, and which went to John Kasich, who eked out 25 percent of the state at large.
Though Ted Cruz finished third (with just 14 percent of the vote), he was undeterred, casting himself as “an outsider,” who, like Bernie Sanders, is running in opposition to special interests and politics as usual. It’s odd positioning when you consider who he’s running against; love him or hate him, Trump is certainly more of a political outsider than Ted Cruz.
The chances of Cruz winning the nomination outright were slim on Monday; now, on Wednesday, after Cruz picked up zero New Yok delegates, a contested convention is seeming more and more like his only hope – which would mean pitching himself as an insider. Of course, that won’t be until July, meaning there’s plenty of time to reframe.
With only fifteen states remaining, though, there’s not much time to regain delegates – for Cruz or for Sanders or for Kasich (who already is unable, mathematically, to reach 1,237). The front-runners’ big New York victories could prove quite consequential. Which means that this may be the first time since the mid-20th century that New York can claim the old Sinatra line (“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”) for its primaries; typically, if you can make it anywhere, here doesn’t much matter.