Voters go to polls in New York primaries

Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders threw a concert in a park with a dramatic view of Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

At the opposite end of New York state, Republican front-runner Donald Trump held a rally in Buffalo, a city recovering from economic decline.

By the end of last night — the last official day of campaigning before voting in the state’s Democratic and Republican primary elections begins — thousands of New Yorkers will have heard the candidates’ closing pitches.

New York’s primary is set to be the most decisive such election in the state in decades in terms of picking the nominees for November’s general election. 

The date for the contests was shifted back this year so they are no longer crowded out by the raft of other states that voted on so-called Super Tuesday last month.

Barring an upset on the Republican side, Mr Trump, whose name in giant letters adorns condominiums and hotels across New York City, is expected to win handily in his native state.

“You’re going to look back and say ‘that was the greatest vote I’ve ever cast, ever, ever, ever’,” he promised cheering supporters at a campaign event on Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs and its most solidly Republican one.

The question is whether Mr Trump will make a clean sweep of all 95 Republican delegates at stake by earning the majority of votes in all 27 congressional districts in the state.

Total victory in New York may help Mr Trump avoid the prospect of seeing the nomination wrested from him at the party’s July 18-21 convention in Cleveland if he arrives without a clear majority of at least 1,237 delegates.

In that scenario, another candidate could win on a second or subsequent convention ballot.

Mr Trump’s Republican rivals, Ted Cruz, a US senator from Texas, and Ohio governor John Kasich, have no strong ties to New York, though they have gamely showed up at campaign events to be seen relishing local delicacies: Pizza, pickles, matzo (unleavened flatbread).

Mr Cruz, Mr Trump’s closest rival, has been given a particularly hard time by some voters for speaking disdainfully of “New York values” earlier this year in an attempt to discredit Mr Trump.

While Mr Trump held his rally in Buffalo, Cruz campaigned in New York City.

On the Democratic side, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who represented New York for eight years in the US Senate and whose main home is just north of New York City, remains the favourite to win her party’s nomination.

Still, recent polls have shown Mr Sanders, a senator from Vermont whose distinctive accent is that of a native Brooklynite, cutting her earlier 30 percentage-point lead by about two-thirds.

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