The New York primary, the next big GOP contest, is less than two weeks away. Matt Flegenheimer and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times offer a good preview of that race.
Donald Trump is way ahead in his home state. A Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday had Trump in first place with 52 percent support. John Kasich was second with 25 percent. Ted Cruz, with 17 percent, was a distant third.
Cruz recently surged in some states including, spectacularly, Wisconsin. However, it’s not clear that his support will increase significantly in New York.
For one thing, as Trump is constantly reminding New Yorkers, Cruz famously denounced “New York values” during his successful run in the Iowa caucuses. For another, Cruz doesn’t have the New York political establishment behind him, as was the case in Wisconsin and Utah.
Indeed, to my knowledge the GOP has no powerhouse establishment figure, or powerhouse establishment, in New York. Former governor Pataki, a hugely unsuccessful candidate in the 2016 presidential contest, recently met with Cruz, but has not endorsed anyone yet. In any case, a Pataki endorsement presumably wouldn’t carry anything like the weight that Scott Walker’s did in Wisconsin. The same is at least as true of former Senator Alphonse D’Amato, who has endorsed John Kasich.
Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement would carry some weight, I imagine. Giuliani hasn’t endorsed anyone so far. According to the Times he has been “a loyal defender of Mr. Trump in many interviews.” However, “since Mr. Trump posted on Twitter an unflattering photo of Mr. Cruz’s wife, Heidi — juxtaposed against one of Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, a former model — Mr. Giuliani has been absent from public view.”
In any event, the New York landscape seems inhospitable to Cruz. However, the primary rules may be his, and/or Kasich’s, friend.
New York will send 95 delegates to the Republican convention. Three will be awarded from each of the state’s 27 congressional districts, for a total of 81. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in a given district, he receives all three delegates. Otherwise, the winner in the district gets two delegates and the runner-up one.
The remaining 14 delegates will all go to the statewide winner if he clears the 50 percent mark. Otherwise, these delegates will be awarded proportionally.
This means that Cruz and Kasich can pick up delegates by winning, or maybe just doing well, in given congressional districts. This invites peculiar campaigning patterns.
For example, the Times reports that Cruz “exulting in his Midwestern triumph, made a beeline for a slice of New York that even local Republicans have long neglected: the overwhelmingly Democratic, majority-minority Bronx.” There, he campaigned at “a Chinese-Dominican restaurant beneath the roar of an elevated subway line.” No doubt, a good time was had by all.
Kasich, meanwhile, will visit Brooklyn on Thursday, and areas around Syracuse and Rochester and north of New York City in the coming days. I can imagine Kasich doing fairly well in some suburban areas.
However, he is said to be short of cash. The campaign began last month with only a little more than $1 million on hand. Although it insists that there is enough money to advertise in the state, Kasich will want to pick his spots carefully, I suspect.
A few weeks ago, FiveThirtyEight’s panel of experts predicted (as a matter of consensus) that Trump will win 71 of New York’s 95 delegates. At this point, even if Trump wins all 95, he still probably won’t be on pace to get, via caucuses and primaries, to the 1,237 he needs to be nominated.
However, a victory of that magnitude would change the way people are talking about the race and possibly give the tycoon renewed momentum. If on the other hand, Trump wins a majority of the delegates but falls well short of 71, Ted Cruz and the anti-Trump forces will take heart.