20 April 2016

New York votes for two of the least-likeable candidates in American history


New Yorkers aren’t used to their votes counting. In normal Presidential elections, New York State’s electoral college votes are always immediately assumed to fall in the Democrats’ column. As soon as the polls close on the East Coast, before a single vote is counted, the state is declared in favor of Democrats. For the first time in a long while for both Democrats and Republicans, their votes counted to such a degree that they may have handed the nomination of their parties to two of the least-likeable candidates in American history. New Yorkers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because of the superdelegate system on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has long had her party’s nomination locked down. What the former Secretary of State and First Lady was lacking, however, was any sense of legitimacy. With the potential to overrule the will of the voters, the Democratic Party has a built-in apparatus to select the party’s nominee by force. In state after state since voting began, socialist Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders has given Clinton a run for her money. In New York last night, the tide might have shifted.

New York voters don’t just reside in New York City, but also in the blue collar areas of Syracuse and Rochester. Voters who are farmers in the north and hipsters in Brooklyn tend to vote for Democrats, but very different kinds of Democrats usually. Which is what made Clinton’s big win (at the time of this writing, with 85% reporting, Clinton was up by 15%) so instrumental for the legitimacy of her future campaign.

If Clinton was nominated without the clear consent of Democratic voters, her path to the White House would have become less certain. Despite the clear unpopularity of the two most plausible Republicans running against her, Clinton will be relying upon the enthusiasm of Democratic voters for fundraising, get-out-the-vote efforts and attendance at rallies. Clinton’s checkered past with dozens of scandals already under her belt, mostly from her time as Secretary of State, have put a great deal of wind under Bernie Sanders’ sails. New York voters may have just dealt a final blow to the Socialist’s campaign by shifting the narrative towards a presumptive Hillary nomination instead of an underdog Sanders candidacy.

The only hometown Republican candidate in New York and favorite Donald Trump enjoyed a big win on the Republican side as well. The race to win enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination was always tight. Though no other Republican can come close to the number Trump has earned, if the frontrunner were unable to reach the number (1237) of required delegates, a contested convention became a possibility. In such a scenario, anyone else could have presumably been chosen. For establishment Republicans, this scenario is the last hope for the survival of the party. With Trump’s big win last night, that hope might have been dashed. Because of the margins of victory Trump enjoyed in his home state, it appears mathematically likely (though not certain) Trump will secure the nomination outright.

While over half of polled Republican voters in New York State were convinced Trump had the best chance at beating Clinton in a general election, the numbers tell a different story. According to legendary pollster Frank Luntz, if the two faced off tomorrow, Clinton would trounce Trump 48.8% to 39.5%. That’s not because Clinton is so likeable, but because Trump’s negatives are so astronomically high.

While most politically involved and interested individuals normally sport “Rock the Vote” paraphernalia during most election years, this isn’t a normal election year. I’ve seen several normally enthusiastic friends sporting “Meh the Vote” t-shirts of late. Of the candidates currently running, none are particularly enticing to the average, moderate American. Two are downright disliked by many. Given its reputation as the most rude and abrasive state (thanks to New York City), it’s no surprise that when given the opportunity to choose the two individuals running for President of each party, New Yorkers decided on the least likable of each party’s pairing.

Bethany Mandel writes on politics and culture.