Hillary Clinton proved she’s the real New Yorker on Tuesday night.
Or at least that she’s the choice of New Yorkers.
Clinton needed this win in order to not only expand her delegate lead, but also because she had to do something to cut into Sanders’s momentum having won eight of the last nine primary contests.
She certainly accomplished this. And then some.
I in no way want to denigrate what Bernie Sanders has accomplished in this campaign, which has been truly remarkable. When he started out he was over 60 points down in New York and he made this a real race (as he has across the nation).
But after Tuesday night’s victory the reality is truly setting in that the delegate math just isn’t there for Bernie Sanders. This has been apparent for weeks as his wins haven’t managed to cut into her 200+ delegate lead, but I’ve always thought that a decisive win in New York would be a proverbial nail in the coffin for Sanders.
My reason for thinking this is three fold.
First, New York is one of the states that is most representative of the Democratic party demographically. Indeed, this is true of other states like Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and several others that Clinton has won. So while Sanders would like to write off many of Clintons early wins as not mattering for the general election, it’s just not true.
Second, New York knows Hillary Clinton and there are several states to come that also know her well like Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She won here 90 percent to 10 percent for having the right experience and voters chose having the right experience as being more important than how honest and trustworthy the candidate is (for what it’s worth 60 percent of New York Democratic primary voters said she was honest). We can expect to see similar outcomes in similar states.
Third, New York proved once and for all that Sanders’s message is not resonating with minority voters. Clinton won the support of 65 percent of black men and 75 percent of black women. She also pulled in 61 percent of Latina women (the data is unavailable on Latino men currently). Those are more than convincing figures and show that even in the north, Clinton is still maintaining big margins with key demographic groups for the Democratic party.
It will be interesting to see if Sanders makes any major changes in his campaign strategy going forward. We’ve already seen his campaign manager talking about going after super-delegates to get them to switch to Sanders, which is certainly an about face (and also hypocritical as they have been so critical of the system and the argument that they switched for Obama doesn’t hold because Obama was the frontrunner when they did).
But my gut tells me that Sanders won’t be changing things up. It’s central to his approach that he is always consistent and discusses his key issues – income inequality, health care and college tuition – and any serious pivot away from that would seem inauthentic -- something he can ill afford.
It follows that Tuesday night's victory represents a critical step towards the nomination for Clinton. A truly well deserved victory and indication that Democrats think much more highly of her than is often portrayed.