By Amrit Singh
As we discussed in last week's @FactsOnly, there is no better place to check in with the presidential candidates' theatrics of authenticity than the home of Broadway. And last night (April 19), we saw what all those heaps of pasta, pizza, tickets to "Hamilton," and subway rides netted our 2016 candidate crew: Decisive wins for the field's frontrunners, hometown hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—and indigestion for everyone else still running, who now have to answer repeat questions about why, and for how long, they will run. In customary Big Apple fashion, New York straight-talked the presidential field into stark focus last night, and now we are here to give you the main things you need to know, so you can talk about it all like you know what you're talking about.
HILLARY WINS IMPORTANT DEMOGRAPHICS, SPEAKS LIKE SHE HAS NOMINATION IN SIGHT: It was the win she needed, in a region of the country she needed it. New York is Hillary's home state, outside of her "deep South" stronghold; anything less than a decisive win would have left her vulnerable. Instead, Hillary was powerful: Her margin of victory was by about 16 percent (58 percent to 42 percent) as of time of press, and the underlying demographics were big for her, too, winning with 92 percent of people who valued experience, and 75 percent of African Americans. She also did better with white people than usual: Winning 60 percent in the city, and about 50 percent upstate. She still struggled with the important block of young voters (only 28 percent; more on that below), and Sanders won the majority of (less populous) New York state counties. But at her victory speech, Hillary claimed to have the nomination in sight.
SANDERS DOESN'T HAVE THE MATH OR THE TACTICS ON HIS SIDE: Bernie has the youth vote, but moving forward, the math and tactics are not his. Tactically, he's done well in caucuses; unfortunately for him, there's only one caucus state left (North Dakota on June 7th). And that doesn't bode well for the math, because to pull even with Hillary in the pledged (i.e. earned) delegate count, he needs to win every remaining state by 18 percent. He's only done that a handful of times so far, and Hillary's looking competitive, to say the least, in nearly all of the states ahead (including the five contests next week).
QUESTIONS FOR FOR HILLARY AND BERNIE MOVING FORWARD: With Clinton feeling sure of the eventual party nomination, she's shifting her sights to the general election. But doing that gracefully is her challenge. Her question: Hillary, how will you gently push Bernie off the stage while courting his core base of young voters, who are resoundingly feeling the Bern? And for Bernie: Well, Bernie's campaign manager Jeff Weaver made headlines last night by saying that Bernie plans on taking this race all the way to the convention, even if he continues to trail in both the delegate count (as he does now, by over 200 delegates) and the popular vote (as he does not, by over 2MM votes). (Watch this much-discussed interview of Weaver by MSNBC's Steve Kornacki from last night for the full rundown.) So there doesn't seem to be a question about Bernie's commitment to see this through. But having outspent Hillary $5.6MM to $2.8MM in New York, largely on "negative" ads about Hillary (i.e. ads that attack an opponent's record, rather than purely advertising a candidate's own policies), will Bernie change the tone of his campaign to a slightly more conciliatory one that would make it easier for the candidates to unify the party, whoever the candidate is? That's the question he'll hear most this next week.
NEW YORK ELECTION BOARD LOOKING INTO VOTER IRREGULARITIES: If your Facebook feed looked like mine last night, you saw a lot of friends in New York attesting to first or second-hand experiences of people who believed they were registered as Democrats and eligible to vote in yesterday's New York primary, only to turn up to voting precincts without their names listed. Per NPR, this happened to over 100,000 people in Brooklyn, which is highly unusual, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to call for an investigation. This is deeply uncool whoever your candidate is, though the Sanders camp believes this voter irregularity harmed them disproportionately, as they've long maintained that high turnout is essential for Bernie to win. (Sanders supporters also feel the state's "closed" primary—which didn't allow you to vote unless you had registered with the Democratic party over six months ago—hurt them, and is undemocratic, as they run well with independents and new voters.)
TRUMP'S BIGGEST VICTORY YET LEADS TO HIS MOST DISCIPLINED VICTORY SPEECH YET: Is this the dawning of the New Trump? We've seen that headline before, and we've seen him try and get a little more "presidential" at times, only to see Donald spice up the mix with a salty "Lyin' Ted Cruz" or some other such nickname. But not last night: Trump's victory speech was disciplined, on-message (the GOP system is rigged, the trade economy is bad, etc.), and nickname-free. Granted, New York is the proud owner of the the single least-Republican district in the nation (where some 66K Democrats voted compared to just over 900 Republicans), but nonetheless, Trump won the delegates: Donald's numbers in New York showed an unprecedented resonance across (relatively) conservative demographics, and he has a new campaign staff in place (led by veteran Paul Manafort, after the assault-scandal of his previous top staffer Corey Lewandowski). So maybe, just maybe, it's the dawning of a new day for Donald. The big question: Will the people who have been attracted to Donald for his unorthodox, freewheeling campaign still ride with the politically disciplined, less salty, possibly bland version?
KASICH WINS DELEGATES, CRUZ GETS SHUT OUT: Turns out New Yorkers don't take kindly to being insulted: Man, did that whole "New York values" thing backfire on Ted Cruz. The Texan Senator won zero delegates in New York, coming in a distant third, and putting his entire campaign in question: Granted, New York is never really in play for Republicans come election day, but the sound rejection of everything Cruz stood for in the media capital of the world is a tough narrative for him to combat in the coming weeks, and it breathed life into Ohio governor John Kasich's campaign to be the #NeverTrump movement's last, best hope. Now, Kasich will need a contested convention, but by picking up some delegates in Manhattan last night, he at least has the oxygen he needs to keep talking about how he's the only Republican candidate that can beat Hillary head-to-head in the general election, and without "sky-high negative" approval ratings.
REPUBLICAN MATH: TRUMP NEEDS 58% OF DELEGATES TO CLINCH, AN IMPOSSIBILITY FOR THE OTHERS: Trump's big win in New York has created a real path for him to get the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch before the Republican convention, while as of last night, Cruz joins Kasich in the realm of being impossible to get to that number. So for them, Cruz, as for Kasich, it's contested convention or bust. What's a contested convention? We got you.
NEW YORK MUSIC CUES: For their victory speeches, Trump walked out to Sinatra's "New York, New York," while Hillary walked out to Jay Z and Alicia's "Empire State Of Mind." Demographics in action.
Next up, a cluster of five primaries on April 26th: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island. Join us then. There will be facts to discuss.
@FactsOnly is a column on the presidential election written by REVOLT 2 Vote Chief Political Correspondent Amrit Singh. Join the conversation about the column and the election using #REVOLT2Vote, and for more on the race, follow the author @amritsingh (on Twitter and Instagram), and the editorial initiative @FactsOnly, also on Twitter and Instagram.