Editor's Note: Seriously I don't understand how they work
by Adam Hamilton
Kasich won New York! Or at least New York County. Manhattan proved an outlier as Queens native Donald Trump romped up a dominating 60 percent of the vote and won 90 of the 96 delegates across New York on the 19th. This is great news for Trump, who had begun to see a slowdown in his campaign. After a Trump shut out in Utah and a searing loss in Wisconsin, Ted Cruz seemed poised to put up a convention challenge, one which former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had previously pressed for. Trump, the only candidate in the race who has not been mathematically eliminated from winning on the first ballot, still needs to win hundreds of delegates to reach the 1237 votes he would need to win on the first round.
Ted Cruz, a master campaigner, has been organizing for months for just such an eventuality. The delegate selection process varies from state to state, but Cruz has been organized to ensure that as many as possible support his candidacy, even if they are bound to vote against him for at least the first ballot. Delegates are often bound to a certain candidate for a certain number of votes, usually between 1 and 3. After that, they are free to vote as they please. That is why it is so important, especially as this contest is expected to be close. In South Carolina, for example, of the states' 50 delegates, all of whom are pledged to Trump on the first ballot, Cruz's organization has ensured that over 40 of them will defect on the second ballot.
Cruz's efforts to spoil Trump's victory met little success in New York, A conservative politician, Cruz found little of the evangelical base that he has built his career around. The rest of the map seems likely to favor Trump, and with the GOP's allocation rules his delegate lead should grow substantially. However, his loss of states such as Ohio and Texas means that he will likely only win on the first ballot by the skin of his teeth if unpledged delegates support him. If not, we may have a convention fight not seen in decades, where Cruz or some dark horse candidate like Paul Ryan becomes the nominee.
For the Dems, Clinton dominated her adopted home state, winning by double digits against the Brooklyn-born Sanders. Clinton, who served two terms as Senator before becoming Secretary of State, reveled in her home-field advantage. Her support throughout the campaign towards down ticket, local, democratic candidates and her network of New York politicos let her run a string of high profile media events. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's invitation of Clinton to his highly publicized signing of a minimum wage increase helped share the spotlight. Sanders saw a state which demographically disfavored him. Despite several high profile endorsements by black leaders he was unable to break Clinton's support, losing 75% of the black vote and 63% of the Hispanic vote. These numbers proved key as Clinton won the state by 15%, largely thanks to her support from minority voters. Sanders did do well upstate, likely winning several congressional districts, and under the byzantine rules of delegate allocation will likely only lose a net of thirty delegates.
Unfortunately for the Sanders campaign, New York may have already closed the door on a comeback. Already well behind in delegates, the electors that will actually choose the nominee, Sanders needed a win, or at least a draw, if he wanted any hope of reversing the tide. Clinton's massive lead has mostly come from her victories in the South, where the democratic electorate has a large number of black voters who overwhelmingly embraced Clinton. While these states may not swing blue in the general they did not give Clinton a healthy lead over Sanders that she furthered with New York. Sanders' competitiveness in the remaining states, mostly in the Northeast and California may close the gap, but Democratic proportional allocation of delegate rules would need Sanders to have several massive double digit wins in states he is expected to lose in the start to close the deficit. Polls in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland all show Clinton safely ahead.
Clinton's camp could use the win. After losing 8 of the last 8 contests to Sanders and with the lingering controversy over the use of a private email server, Clinton now sees momentum into the final stretch. Sanders could still win a few contests, but the delegate math has him against the ropes unless superdelegates, which have overwhelmingly flocked to Clinton, defect and support his campaign. Sanders has continued to claim that he will keep his campaign going until the convention. With Clinton still short of an outright win and high profile elections scheduled as late as early June, it is not over for the Democrats just yet.