Election 2020

For Trump, It’s New York ... or Die Trying

(Rex Features via AP Images)

For Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, it’s New York or die trying. The Donald needs a big win in order to reach the vital 1,237 number of delegates to secure the Republican nomination for president. Most Republican strategists say he’s unlikely to get the nomination if there’s a contested convention, so he has no choice but to win, and win big, in the Empire State.

The Donald is hoping that New Yorkers have lost all knowledge of our country’s history and are ignorant of civics, economics, national politics, and just about everything except those folks prominently featured in People magazine.

New York is not used to being in play during the presidential primaries at all, but this year, the primary has become quite intense. The Republican and Democratic candidates have been running around our very large state like chickens without heads. This week’s primary is late in the nomination process, and yet it is still quite contested: on both the GOP and Democratic sides.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich are facing off against Trump. Native New Yorker Bernie Sanders is opposing Hillary Clinton, who represented our state in the United States Senate. Ben Carson, who has since suspended his campaign, allegedly in exchange for a job, has endorsed Trump but will also appear on the ballot. There are 95 Republican delegates and 291 Democratic delegates up for grabs.

Ted Cruz, who won big in Wisconsin, and posted big delegate wins in Colorado, Wyoming, and North Dakota, was hoping to maintain his momentum going into the New York primary. The polls indicate that New Yorkers are not impressed with the voters in Wisconsin. The big numbers in the polls are all for the home boy who built those skyscrapers along the West Side Highway.

New York has closed primaries, so Ivanka and Eric Trump, who reportedly didn’t register as Republicans before the October cutoff date, won’t be able to vote for their dad. I suspect that they’re Democrats, much like many of the other people with whom Trump surrounds himself, but I was not able to verify my suspicion by press time. There has been much debate about whether Trump himself is a Republican, considering how many times he has changed his party registration.

In upstate New York, where I reside, the Quinnipiac polls put Cruz at 26 percent, Kasich at 22 percent and Trump at 47 percent.  Mr. Trump needs 50 percent of the vote statewide and in each congressional district to win all of the delegates. If this polling is correct, he won’t make it upstate. Statewide, Quinnipiac polling shows Trump has 55 percent of New York’s likely Republican primary voters (a small minority of the people living in my state). Kasich stands at 20 percent and Cruz still holds 19 percent.

On the other hand, the latest NBC4/WSJ/Marist poll found that 54 percent of Republican voters surveyed said they were planning to vote for Trump. Trump led the field regardless of region, age, gender, religion, education, and income among likely Republican voters. Here’s what keeps this primary so interesting: Much will depend on the turnout in this state where many conservative voters are registered as Democrats.  Traditionally, that’s been where all the action is in this heavily blue state.

There has been lots of talk about Ted Cruz’s “New York values” comment during a Republican debate in January. Ironically, it’s mostly people outside of New York (and television’s talking heads) who seem to care. We New Yorkers enjoy trading barbs, and we’re quick to forgive — sometimes too quick, I might add. The Donald is an exception to that rule.

Trump secured a key New York state endorsement from the very popular former mayor of the Big Apple, Rudy Giuliani, and Kasich earned the endorsement of former presidential candidate and former governor George Pataki. The former governor said Trump would “drive the Republican Party off a cliff.”  Much like Kasich, whose campaign has been going nowhere, Pataki barely got 1% in the polls and suspended his campaign early on.

The Daily News editorial board endorsed Kasich because “his maturity and pragmatism shine, especially in contrast to the dangerous and disgraceful character of Donald Trump.”  The New York Post endorsed the Donald, ironically writing, “He has the potential — the skills, the know-how, the values — to live up to his campaign slogan:  To make America great again.”

On the theme of making things great, Cruz has been running harsh campaign ads in New York, highlighting Trump’s support of the city’s top Democrat, unpopular Mayor Bill de Blasio. One ad in particular quotes Trump saying of de Blasio, “I think he’s going to want to make New York great.” The chilling caption: “Perhaps Donald doesn’t know what the word ‘great’ means.” We’ll know Tuesday evening if such ads have even made a dent in Trump’s support.