Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are favored to come out as winners in New York’s primary today, but several key factors are likely to determine the size of each candidate’s delegate haul in the third largest state.
The two major questions for Tuesday are: 1) How many congressional districts Donald Trump wins with a majority (thereby sweeping all three delegates in each), and 2) whether Clinton can net a substantial vote margin, which matters since delegates are awarded proportionally.
Here’s a quick guide for what to watch for in the Democratic and Republican contests.
– Republican race: Is upstate New York also Trump Country?
The latest NBC4/WSJ/Marist poll shows Queens native Trump in the lead with 54 percent of the vote among likely New York Republican voters — well ahead of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 25 percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 16 percent.
1. Trump’s hometown edge.
Trump’s home is New York City, and his big advantage in polls going into the state’s primary suggest he’s benefiting from his local reputation. But how far that extends across the state is important, as most of the state’s delegates are awarded at the congressional district level. A candidate captures all three of a district’s delegates if he receives majority support, but if he gets less than 50 percent, he splits those delegates 2-1 with the runner-up.
That matters because Trump isn’t as strong upstate, with polls showing at least slightly lower support outside the Big Apple. The NBC/WSJ poll mentioned above found Trump with 58 percent support among of “downstate” Republican likely voters (including New York City and its suburbs) and 52 percent among “upstate” voters. A Quinnipiac University poll completed slightly earlier found Trump’s upstate support dipping below a majority (47 percent) while he received 62 percent support in both New York City and suburban parts of the state.
Of New York’s 27 congressional districts, 16 are in New York City. The remaining 11 cover the rest of the state. If Trump has more hometown appeal among Republicans close to his Queens birthplace and Manhattan home, he will rake in far more delegates in the more heavily populated New York City districts than in the more sparsely populated rest of New York.
2. Moderate and liberal Republicans.
Republicans in New York are less ideologically conservative than most states, with 45 percent identifying as moderate or liberal in 2008, compared with 36 percent across other contests, and these voters have been a major source of support for Trump this year, favoring Trump by an average 26 points over Cruz and 21 points over Kasich. Trump has lost the most conservative Republicans by an average of 5 points to Cruz.
The only other state with a similarly large share of non-conservative Republicans was Massachusetts, where 38 percent self-described as moderates or liberals. Trump scored his highest vote share of any primary in that state (49 percent). Driven in part by a 47-31 lead over Kasich among moderates and liberals.
But Trump showed appeal among all self-reported ideology groupings in this traditionally Democratic stronghold, winning “very conservative” Republicans 21-point margin over Cruz — perhaps a sign that ideological labels understate the moderate leanings of northeastern Republicans.
3. College graduates.
New York has a higher rate of bachelor’s degree holders than the United States as a whole; 34 percent of state residents ages 25 and older held a degree in 2009, compared with 28 percent of the U.S. overall. That fact would figure to play against Trump, whose support has been concentrated among non-college voters throughout the campaign. The trend appears set to continue as the NBC4/WSJ/Marist poll found Trump’s support 11 points higher among non-college-educated Republicans than those with degrees (59-48).
– Democratic contest: A test of Clinton’s diverse appeal.
Clinton held a 57-40 lead over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic contest, according to a NBC 4 NY/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll completed last Wednesday — a margin larger than some other recent polls, though all show her with a lead. The contest is unusual with both candidates having a claim to local ties but the state’s racially and religiously diverse electorate playing to Clinton’s strengths.
1. The Jewish vote.
Jewish voters make a far larger share of the Democratic electorate in New York than any other state, accounting for 16 percent of Democratic primary voters in 2008 (Florida was second at 9 percent). Sanders’ opportunity to be the first Jewish presidential nominee from a major party would figure to give him an edge here, but the group was leaning toward Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s voting.
The NBC/WSJ/Marist poll found Clinton up 65-32 among Jewish Democrats, which is actually wider than her overall leading margin and almost identical to her advantage over Barack Obama among Jewish Democrats eight years ago (65-33).
2. Clinton’s strength in urban voters.
In 2008, more than half of Democratic primary voters came from New York City’s five boroughs (51 percent), while the rest (49 percent) came from other parts of the state. Clinton beat Obama in both regions — by 22 points outside of New York City and by 12 points in the city.
Clinton has fared especially well in urban areas this year, winning voters in cities with at least 50,000 residents an average of 24 percentage points in exit polling, compared with a smaller edge in suburban and rural areas.
This owes in part to to her strong performance among African Americans and Hispanics — who tend to be clustered in more urban areas — in the South and West. Sanders did beat Clinton among urban voters in Wisconsin, where 83 percent of Democratic voters were white and the state’s second largest city (Madison) provided a boon of Sanders-friendly younger voters living near the University of Wisconsin’s campus.
3. Whither Hispanic turnout?
New York state has significant portion of Hispanic eligible voters (14 percent), though they made up a less than 10 percent of primary voters in the 2008 despite their Democratic political leanings.
Stronger Hispanic turnout could boost Clinton, who has led Sanders by 19 percentage points among Hispanic voters in exit polls this year. Hispanic voters’ support has varied widely across different states, however, from 40-plus-point wins in Florida and Texas to Sanders edging Clinton by 8 points among Hispanics in Nevada. Hispanics split roughly evenly in Illinois (50 percent Sanders, 49 percent Clinton).
If 2008 is any guide, New York may be a better than average state for Clinton among Hispanic voters. She defeated Obama by nearly 50 points among Hispanic Democrats (73-26) in 2008 — wider than her 26-point margin across all contests that year.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Emily Guskin