NEW YORK: The US presidential circus is barnstorming New York, where adoptive daughter Hillary Clinton and native-born sons Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are battling to win the state’s most important primary in decades.
Despite being the media and financial capital of America, New York is typically a sideshow in presidential elections, an overwhelmingly blue state whose primary typically comes too late to make a difference.
But with Republicans potentially facing a contested election and Clinton locked into a tighter race than she imagined, the 247 Democrat and 95 Republican delegates up for grabs could prove decisive.
This year, New Yorkers also have the unique choice of three candidates who consider the state their home: celebrity Manhattan tycoon Trump, Brooklyn-born Sanders and two-time senator Clinton.
With three weeks to go, polls give Clinton and Trump a thumping advantage. Clinton leads Sanders 54 to 42 percent, according to the latest Quinnipiac University survey.
Trump dominates the Republican field with 56 percent – a double digit lead over Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who was roundly condemned for denigrating “New York values,” and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The tycoon brags of being “the most popular person that’s ever lived” upstate. If he becomes the nominee, then whoever wins the Democratic ticket would pit New Yorker against New Yorker in November.
Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt has a US president claimed to come from New York. Expect wall-to-wall coverage, celebrity endorsements and Wall Street watching closely in a state home to some of the richest people in the world and the most disadvantaged in the country.
Not since the modern system of primary and caucus elections was introduced in the 1970s has the New York primary been so important for both parties, said professor Jeanne Zaino from Iona College.
“New York has never been so consequential in so many ways. It could potentially end a campaign or get us to a contested election,” the political scientist told Agence France-Presse.
The only path for Sanders to win the nomination is to win Wisconsin on April 5 and sock it to Clinton in the New York primary on April 19. Anything less than a home-state victory will spell trouble for Trump.
On Wednesday, Clinton hit New York hard, stopping off at a popular cafe and addressing her fan base in Harlem, the historically African American neighborhood that has welcomed the Clintons for decades.