New York Numbahs

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2016 — The first meaningful 2016 New York presidential poll was released late last week, providing us insight as to what may happen in the state’s April 19 Democratic and Republican primaries.

Quinnipiac University conducted a survey of likely New York primary voters (March 22-29 — 1,667 registered New York voters; 693 likely Democratic primary voters, 457 likely Republican primary voters) and rather unsurprisingly finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump leading their respective party primaries.

For Clinton, who was twice elected as one of New York’s US senators (2000; 2006), the Q-Poll forecasts her holding a 54-42 percent lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT). If anything, this advantage is smaller than one might have guessed, but the margin is substantial enough to put the state out of reach for Sanders.

The segmentation cells that bring the Vermont senator even within 12 points of Clinton are those who identify themselves as being “very liberal” (Sanders leads within this group, 57-43 percent), and men (Sanders up 49-46 percent).

New York has 291 Democratic delegates, 44 of whom are Super Delegates. With a first-place finish, and her continued dominance in the Super Delegate category, Clinton will likely capture close to 175 delegates, which will likely put her within 450 or so votes of clinching the nomination with 19 states and territories remaining to vote. If these projections prove accurate for New York, and Wisconsin, earlier, on April 5, Clinton will need approximately 27 percent of the remaining delegates’ votes to become the Democratic presidential nominee and advance to the general election.

On the Republican side, the Q-Poll posts Trump to a substantial 56-20-19 percent lead over Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH). But, the New York Republican delegate apportionment formula is very complicated.

Though Trump will commit most of the 95 Empire State Republican delegates the complex system makes converting New York into a backdoor Winner-Take-All situation highly difficult.

Of the 95 GOP delegates, 18 are at-large and three are Republican National Committee officers. The latter trio has the option of remaining uncommitted irrespective of the statewide vote. The 18 statewide delegates are apportioned proportionately to those candidates receiving a minimum 20 percent of the statewide result. If a candidate attracts a majority of the statewide vote, then all 18 at-large delegates are so rewarded.

The remaining 81 delegates are spread throughout the state’s 27 congressional districts, three from each. The candidate placing first in each congressional district’s vote receives two delegates in each such seat. The second-place finisher earns one vote. Should a candidate exceed the majority 50 percent threshold, the contender would then sweep all three of the specific district’s delegate contingent.

Therefore, for a candidate to secure all of the New York Republican delegates, he would have to win a majority of the statewide vote and place first in all 27 congressional districts, exceeding the minimum majority percentage in every instance.

While it is unlikely that Trump will score majorities in all 27 CDs, he does have a reasonable chance of obtaining perhaps as many as 80 of the 95 delegate votes. Achieving such a number would go a long way toward keeping Trump’s first ballot victory hopes alive.

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