Donald Trump is the projected winner of the Republican presidential primary in New York, according to exit polls and early returns – a win that solidifies his front-runner status after days of staff turmoil and questions about his campaign’s ability to win the delegates needed to secure the nomination.
The race was called for Trump by the Associated Press as polls closed at 9 p.m. ET. The state’s Democratic primary remains too close to call despite Hillary Clinton’s home state advantage.
New York’s primary has been the most raucous nominating contest of an already wild presidential campaign season, with the state a coveted prize for Trump and Clinton, who anticipate wins that will vault them closer to their party’s nomination.
Polls had shown Clinton and Trump leading by double-digit margins in a state with a vastly diverse backdrop, stretching from the riches of Wall Street and suburban Westchester County to the struggles of industrial cities upstate like Watervliet and Watertown.
A big win for Trump brings him closer to securing an outright majority of Republican delegates — an outcome that remains in jeopardy and has prompted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) to mount a spirited, methodical campaign to force a contested convention.
New York City is a battleground in the GOP delegate fight VIEW GRAPHIC
A Clinton victory would provide momentum after a blitz of recent primary and caucus wins for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Unlike Trump, Clinton is so far ahead in the delegate count that it would be nearly impossible for Sanders to catch her.
While the party front-runners spent much of the day in New York, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich on the GOP side and Sanders in the Democratic race stumped for votes in Maryland and Pennsylvania, which will hold primaries next week.
Early exit poll results in New York showed that Trump was poised for a commanding victory thanks to a less conservative electorate that favors an outsider in the White House.
A clear majority of New York Republican voters — seven in ten — said the party should nominate the leading candidate regardless of whether they achieve an absolute majority of convention delegates, according to exit poll results reported by CNN. More than half of New York Republican voters consider themselves “somewhat” conservative, according to exit polls reported by CNN. If that stands throughout the evening, it would be higher than any state in this year’s contests, and shows Trump’s likely support in the state.
Most GOP primary voters also said they want the next president to hail from outside the political establishment. If that figure holds, it would mark the highest level of support for a political outsider in Republican contests this year, according to CNN.
Roughly four in ten New York Democratic primary voters are non-white, according to early exit poll data reported by ABC News, up slightly from 30 percent in the 2008 Democratic primary in the state. That apparent shift signaled a good night for Clinton, given that non-white voters have favored her over Sanders by a 70 to 29 percent margin across earlier contests.
(c) 2016 The Washington Post