Hillary Clinton took a huge step toward locking down the Democratic nomination once and for all with a decisive victory over Bernie Sanders in the New York primary — a win that appears to have been boosted by strong backing from Jewish voters.
Clinton, for the first time since the campaign kicked off a year ago, spoke in clearer terms about the state of the race, positioning herself as the de-facto winner of the Democratic nomination.
“The race,” she said in her victory speech in New York, “is in the homestretch and victory is in our sights.” She reached out directly to Sanders voters, telling them, “I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.”
Even before New Yorkers went to the polls, Clinton knew she could count on strong support from black and Latino voters, who make up big chunks of the Democratic electorate in the Empire State.
But it appears that she also racked up strong support from Jewish voters.
Exit polling revealed that about 12% of the voters in the Democratic primary were Jews, but the raw numbers were apparently deemed too small to break out accurately.
And while there is little reliable data on New York’s statewide Jewish vote, anecdotal information indicates Clinton fared better with Jews than with the general population of the city.
In the 10th Congressional District, considered to be the district most populated with Jews in the entire nation, Clinton beat Sanders by a 3-to-1 margin.
The onetime senator from New York also won the Lower East Side and Boro Park. She also handily won the election district in Midwood, where Sanders grew up.
Leaving his traveling press behind in Pennsylvania, Sanders took off to Vermont the night of April 19, shortly before polls in New York were about to close.
The native New Yorker, who had hoped to pose a real challenge to Clinton in the state, announced that he misses Vermont and needs “to get recharged and take a day off” before going home to Burlington with his wife and campaign staff.
Clinton’s double-digit victory in New York has pushed Sanders and his campaign once again to the mathematical crossroads they’ve been trying to avoid ever since the beginning of the primary season and especially since Super Tuesday, when Clinton established her lead.
But while many in the Democratic Party believe that New York sent a clear message that electoral math has finally overtaken hope and enthusiasm, Sanders, at least publicly, is showing no sign of willingness to accept this premise.
“I think the road ahead is very good for Bernie Sanders,” said Sanders’s senior adviser, Tad Devine. “There are still a pretty good number of delegates left.”
Sanders himself, in a brief conference call he held with reporters after landing in Vermont, insisted he still has a path to win the nomination, but the way forward has become extremely difficult. The key states still up for grabs, Pennsylvania and California, are considered Clinton strongholds, as are the Mid-Atlantic states that will vote next week. And even though Sanders is expected to perform well in the Pacific Northwest and several other states, chances of closing in on Clinton are virtually zero.
Sanders’s camp is looking at a different math. In an email put out after the vote, the campaign reminded supporters that despite the defeat in New York, Sanders is still walking away with a significant amount of delegates thanks to proportionate distribution. Looking forward, he told supporters, the five states voting next week could change the picture. “If we do well next Tuesday, we remain in a position to take the pledged delegate lead when almost 700 delegates are up for grabs on June 7.”
Sanders’s campaign made a point of stressing that they had never counted on winning New York, but demographic breakdowns indicate that despite his massive investment of time and money in New York, Sanders did not succeed in moving any of the Clinton-leaning constituencies to his side.
Sanders won handedly among younger voters and lost miserably with older Democrats. His advantage among independent voters, which have been Sanders’s key demography, was eliminated in New York, a state that does not allow nonregistered Democrats to vote in the Democratic primary. But then, neither do most of the major states scheduled to hold primaries between now and June.
“We believe we have the momentum, and we believe we have a path of victory,” Sanders said April 19, but after New York’s primary, the voices disputing his optimistic assessment of the situation are growing louder. “It is more likely,” concluded the New York Times in an article analyzing Sanders’ delegate count, “that Mr. Sanders has reached the stage of the campaign where even feel-good victories — like repeats of his genuinely impressive win in Michigan — will leave him too far behind.”
Contact Nathan Guttman at email@example.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman