Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and billionaire Donald Trump won the Democratic and Republican primaries in New York State Tuesday, cementing their positions as the frontrunners for the presidential nominations of the two big business parties.
Clinton defeated Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent, rolling up a total of nearly 1.1 million votes compared to some 800,000 for her opponent. Democratic turnout was up about 10 percent compared to the last contested primary, in 2008, when Clinton defeated Barack Obama by nearly the same percentage margin.
In terms of delegates for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which were divided proportionally, Clinton won 135 and Sanders 104, increasing Clinton’s lead among elected delegates by 31. Media tabulations have Clinton with 1,424 elected delegates to 1,149 for Sanders, a margin of 275. When unelected superdelegates—party officials and officeholders, who overwhelmingly favor Clinton—are included, Clinton’s lead more than doubles to 713, with 1,893 for Clinton compared to 1,180 for Sanders. A total of 2,382 are required to win the Democratic nomination.
Clinton rolled up her majority in New York City and its suburbs, sweeping all five boroughs of the city and the five suburban counties, Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island and Westchester, Rockland and Orange north of the city. Upstate, Clinton won narrowly in Erie County (Buffalo), Monroe County (Rochester) and Onondaga County (Syracuse). Sanders actually won 49 of New York’s 62 counties, including the rural areas and the smaller manufacturing centers like Schenectady, Utica and Binghamton, as well as the state capital, Albany.
The Sanders campaign complained that Democratic Party rules making New York a closed primary—limited only to registered Democrats—excluded as many as 3 million voters registered as independents. Nearly all of the remaining primaries, with the exception of California, the most populous state, will be conducted under similar rules, increasing Clinton’s chances of winning most of those contests.
Sanders’s victories in 15 primaries and caucuses have been largely due to a big turnout among independent voters, particularly young people. Exit polls suggest that he has won a majority among registered Democrats in only one primary, in his home state of Vermont.
The Sanders campaign outspent Clinton by two-to-one and mobilized large numbers of young people, but Clinton had the unstinting support of Democratic Party officeholders and the bulk of the trade union apparatus in the state.
In the Republican primary, Trump won 60 percent of the vote, while his two remaining opponents, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, divided up the remainder. Kasich won 25 percent of the vote and Cruz 15 percent. The total Republican vote was up more than 20 percent compared to 2008, but still far below the total in the Democratic contest. All three Republicans combined won fewer votes than Hillary Clinton in the heavily Democratic state.
Under Republican Party rules awarding delegates on a winner-take-all basis if a candidate wins 50 percent of the vote in a congressional district or statewide, Trump won at least 90 of the 95 delegates elected Tuesday, with Kasich taking the remainder. Cruz won zero delegates, finishing a poor third in all 27 congressional districts in the state.
Trump now leads the Republican contest with 849 delegates compared to 559 for Cruz, with 1,237 required for the nomination. The New York result does not clinch the nomination for Trump, but it makes it considerably more difficult to prevent him accumulating the needed delegates in the 15 states still to vote.
Kasich’s five or so delegates were the first he has won since the March 15 primary in Ohio, his home state. He has only 148 delegates, fewer even than Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who suspended his campaign more than a month ago.
The result of the New York primary is that it appears more likely that the Democratic and Republican parties will nominate as their candidates the most widely despised figures in modern American political history. An opinion poll published last week found that Trump was viewed favorably by only 24 percent, compared to 65 percent disapproving, for a net negative standing of minus 41 percent, the worst figure ever recorded for a presidential frontrunner of a major capitalist party. Clinton’s numbers were the second worst ever recorded: 32 percent favorable compared to 56 percent unfavorable, for a net negative of minus 24 percent. Ted Cruz was little better, with a net negative rating of minus 23 percent.
These figures reveal not just the unpopularity of these individuals, but the widespread popular hostility to both political parties and the financial aristocracy they represent and serve.
In her victory speech in Manhattan Tuesday night, Clinton sought to identify herself with what she called “a progressive tradition from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama,” espousing “bold progressive goals backed up with real plans.”
While listing a litany of unmet social needs, from “rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure” to education, health care, the environment, systemic racism and pay discrimination against women, she gave no hint as to why the Obama administration has so signally failed to improve conditions of life in any of these areas.
As has become the pattern throughout the campaign, Clinton made no reference to foreign policy or the looming threat of war, the day after the Obama administration approved the latest escalation of US military intervention in Iraq and Syria.
Proclaiming her own campaign to be “the only campaign, Democratic or Republican, to win more than 10 million votes,” counting all primaries and caucuses so far, she declared that “the race is in the home stretch and victory is in sight,” the first time she has made such a public claim.
Clinton appealed to Sanders and his supporters, saying that “much more unites us than divides us,” and made no explicit criticism of her Democratic rival, instead attacking Republicans Trump and Cruz.
Both Trump and Clinton are currently leading in the polls in all five of the states with primaries scheduled for next Tuesday, all on the East Coast: Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Victory in all five would likely secure the Democratic nomination for Clinton, but would not foreclose the possibility of a contested Republican convention.
Sanders’s campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, appearing on MSNBC after the dimensions of Clinton’s victory in New York had become apparent, said that Sanders must win at least three of the five contests on April 26 to have a path to the nomination, indicating Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island as the most likely.
Sanders addressed a rally at State College, Pennsylvania before the polls closed in New York, and then flew home to Vermont without making any public statement other than a congratulatory phone call to Hillary Clinton.
Other results from exit polls of Democratic primary voters showed results quite similar to those in previous primary states, with Sanders winning by large margins among younger voters and running even with Clinton among minority voters under 45, while Clinton won by huge margins among African-American and Hispanic voters, including 77 percent of minority voters aged 45 and over.
On the Republican side, exit polls suggested a deepening split over the candidacy of Trump. A majority of those who voted for either Kasich or Cruz, some 55 percent, said they would not vote for Trump in November if he is the Republican nominee.