BY ESTER R. FUCHS
For the first time in decades, New York voters were part of a competitive and contentious presidential primary process.
We got to see Republicans bake matzo in Brooklyn and Democrats eat ice cream in Staten Island. Their political ads were on television, on Facebook and radio. We even managed a Democratic primary debate in Brooklyn. New Yorkers finally got to hear the candidates address issues that concern us.
The results are in. Hillary Clinton won big in her adopted home state, beating back the Bernie Sanders insurgency 58 percent to his 42 percent, in the Democratic primary. And she won by even greater margins in New York City.
Clinton’s 64 percent to Sanders 36 percent was almost an embarrassment for the Brooklyn born Sanders. At the same time Donald Trump swept away his challengers receiving 60 percent of the statewide Republican primary vote and 64 percent of the vote in New York City. Hillary Clinton needed this victory – to energize her campaign and ensure her nomination at the convention. And Donald Trump’s win in New York blunts the criticism of his challengers.
Both Clinton and Trump won in almost every demographic group in New York. Clinton’s strength was clearly among women, minorities, and big cities voters. Trump dominated in every group, even among women. Of course 91 per cent of Republican primary voters were white, so there are actually no numbers on his African-American or Latino support.
Now we should ask if it will mean anything significant for New Yorkers that we have effectively ensured the Democratic nomination for Clinton and put Trump in a position to go to the Republican convention with the majority of his party’s delegates. Will we at least hear more about the issues that New Yorkers think are important?
The exit polls give us a clue. New York State’s Republican voters are more likely to identify as politically conservative, live in the suburbs and consider the economy and jobs as the issue that most matters to them.
Democratic voters are more likely to live in NYC, to identify as politically liberal and consider the economy and jobs as the issue that most matters to them. There is no question that New Yorkers have set the stage for what will be the important issue for voters in both parties for this presidential election. As, someone famously said, “It’s the economy stupid!”
Clinton will continue talking about the NYC issues that most urban voters care about – education, reforming the criminal justice system, women’s rights and rebuilding the infrastructure. Trump will speak to white working class suburban men and continue attacking free trade, Wall Street and immigrants.
At the same time, both candidates will link every message and every policy proposal to improving our economy and creating jobs. By seeing through the smoke and mirrors of the campaign rhetoric, New York primary voters have crystalized the issue that will dominate this election. Now it is up to the rest of the country to vote for the candidate that will really deliver on improving our economy and creating jobs.
Ester R. Fuchs is a professor of Political Science and Public Affairs at Columbia University