Barring some unforeseen catastrophe or the major polls being so wrong they make the polls in the Michigan primary look spot-on, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will walk away with good-sized delegate hauls on Tuesday.
For both Trump and Clinton it is all about the margin of victory and big wins could set them up to finish things off sooner as opposed to later. Next week there will be a number of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states holding primaries, so big wins in New York would give both front runners momentum.
As always is the case of the GOP side Trump is hovering somewhere between 52 to 53 percent. If he wins Tuesday with that percentage of the vote in each congressional district, he walks away with all 95 delegates up for grabs in the state. If Ted Cruz and John Kasich can hold him to under 50 percent, and he gets two delegates in a given district, while the runner-up gets one. (Each New York district will be electing three delegates on Tuesday.)
Trump will win the lion’s share of delegates, but Cruz and Kasich may pick off a few here and there. Of course at this point, Trump’s path to 1,237 delegates is narrow enough that any little bit the other candidates can do to slow him down helps the “Never Trump” forces. Expect to hear a great deal of grousing about a “rigged” system from Trump if he doesn’t sweep all 95.
Also, this election is technically for delegates to the state Republican convention in May, where the delegates to the national convention will actually be chosen. Although all the Trump delegates will be bound to vote for him on the first ballot, they will be free to go for another candidate on the second and beyond
As for the Democrats, Clinton’s lead was hovering around ten points heading into the weekend, and it is unlikely that debate Thursday night moved any voters. There were some important discussions about their differences on a couple of issues, with the Israel-Palestine conflict being the most notable, with 16 percent of the vote in New York being Jewish, Sanders did not help himself by stressing that point.
New York is not Bernie Sanders’ last stand, but with the proportional allocation of delegates, he obviously needs a big win to cut into Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates. He is not going to get it, and in fact with a loss will lose ground in the delegate count.
Sanders was already facing an uphill climb in New York. It is Clinton’s home state that she represented as a Senator for eight years. It has a closed primary and any independent voter who wanted to participate had to switch their registration to one of the parties no later than last October. This has hurt Sanders more than Clinton, as he has done much better with independents than she. With all these barriers, he was always going to have to run a perfect campaign to overtake her natural advantages, and he hasn’t.
The bottom line is that for all the continued shrieking from partisans and the puffed-up importance that has been granted Tuesday’s contest, the results are not likely to change the shape of the race. Come late Tuesday night, Clinton will still have a significant delegate lead over Sanders and Trump will still have his work cut out for him to avoid a brokered convention.