NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump triumphed with ease Tuesday in the Republican primary in New York, rebounding from a tough stretch that had strained his path to the GOP nomination and highlighted weaknesses in his campaign. Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were in a close race as polls closed.
The margin of Trump’s victory in his home state and the number of delegates he secures will determine the real impact of his win. If he captures more than 50 percent of the vote, he will be in a strong position to win most of New York’s 95 delegates, an impressive haul that will keep him on a narrow path to the nomination.
Trump’s closest rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, downplayed the billionaire businessman’s win as little more than “a politician winning his home state.” Cruz left New York before the polls closed, turning his attention to Pennsylvania, where he delivered a speech calling on Americans to join together to move the country forward.
“Let us unite on the things that have always made us great,” Cruz said.
The Democratic contest between Clinton and Sanders marked a potential turning point in their surprisingly competitive race. Clinton has maintained a solid lead in the delegate count throughout much of the primary season, and a win in New York would strengthen her claim to the Democratic nomination. Even before the results were in, her top campaign aides were casting her as the near-certain nominee and urging Sanders to tone down his attacks on the former secretary of state.
An upset win for Sanders, however, would be a blow for Clinton and raise fresh questions about her weaknesses. Sanders campaigned aggressively in New York, playing up his own local roots in Brooklyn, but he, too, headed to Pennsylvania before voting wrapped up.
Speaking at a rally in State College, he appeared to predict a win for his rival.
“Virtually the entire New York Democratic establishment is standing with her,” he said. “You know what, we’re going to do just fine tonight in New York.”
The fight for New York’s delegate haul has consumed the presidential contenders for two weeks, an eternity in the fast-moving White House race. Candidates blanketed every corner of New York, bidding for votes from Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs to the working class cities and rural enclaves that dot the rest of the state.
Trump spent much of the lead-up to Tuesday’s primary combatting questions about his strength as the Republican front-runner and his preparedness for a convention fight.