Donald J. Trump wrested back control of the Republican presidential race on Tuesday with a commanding victory in the New York primary, while Hillary Clinton dealt a severe blow to Sen. Bernie Sanders as she won her adopted home state with powerful support from women and blacks.
The Queens-born, Manhattan-made Trump, who campaigned vigorously for a huge vote total to revive his political fortunes, drew support from majorities of nearly every demographic group across the state, according to exit polls by Edison Research. By routing his opponents, Trump has improved his chances of winning the Republican nomination by expanding his sizable delegate lead over Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio led Cruz for a distant second place.
Trump seemed like a different man as he claimed victory in the lobby of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. There were no freewheeling presentations of steaks and bottled water, as in the past. There was no reference to “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary”; he called his opponent “Sen. Cruz” instead, and made no mention of Clinton. He also took no questions from the news media.
And his speech sounded more presidential than any other he has given on an election night — a focused, tightened message about trade and the economy as he prepares to campaign in states hit hard by manufacturing industry losses. The speech reflected the growing influence of Paul Manafort, whom Trump empowered to help him win the nomination and who has taken on a greater purview, including messaging.
“Our jobs are being sucked out of our states,” Trump said at the outset. “One of the big problems is economy and jobs, and that is my wheelhouse.” He said, twice, that he was going to get up and go back to work for the nomination on Wednesday morning, a clear message about the intensity he is bringing to the fight.
In the Democratic race, Clinton snapped Sanders’ recent winning streak and took an important step toward clinching the nomination. While the New York race appeared to tighten in recent days, Clinton held a significant edge in early returns.
Sanders advisers had said that beating Clinton in her adopted home state represented one of their campaign’s best opportunities to damage her candidacy and sow doubts about her strength as a general-election nominee. On Tuesday, however, Clinton drew deep support among women and blacks — two groups that have been essential for her in many states — while Sanders was outpacing her among men and people under 45, according to exit polls.
“Bernie Sanders got very negative attacking Hillary Clinton and dividing the party in New York, and I think he now has to ask himself if he wants to keep going down that path,” said Jay Jacobs, a Clinton supporter who is the Democratic chairman in Nassau County on Long Island. “After New York, we’re moving into a phase of the campaign where we have to start uniting the party.”
Sanders and his team spent Tuesday looking past New York. Sanders, speaking at an evening rally at Pennsylvania State University on Tuesday night, tried to cast the New York results in the best possible light.
“We are going to do a lot better than people thought we would,” said Sanders, who was far behind Clinton in opinion polls in New York until recently. “We are going to do just fine tonight in New York.”
The senator’s advisers expressed optimism that he would perform strongly in next Tuesday’s primaries in Pennsylvania as well as in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The other two states voting next week, Delaware and Maryland, are widely seen as Clinton strongholds. The Sanders campaign is already running television ads in those five states and Indiana, which votes May 3.
“Bernie is in good shape going forward no matter who wins New York,” said Tad Devine, a senior adviser on the Sanders campaign. “We could win enough delegates in Pennsylvania and Indiana to catch up further to her, and we have good opportunities all the way through California,” which votes June 7. Still, Devine acknowledged, “we’re going to have to have some big wins at the end” of the primary and caucus season.
Clinton, a former senator from New York, received support from about 6 in
10 Democrats on Long Island, and she had an edge over Sanders in New York City. The two candidates were closely matched among voters in the Hudson Valley, which was widely seen as Sanders territory, given the enclaves of liberals and college students.
On a major issue in their campaign, nearly two-thirds of Democratic primary voters said that Wall Street does more to hurt the American economy than to help it, and those voters backed Sanders. But Clinton received even stronger support from those who said Wall Street helps the economy.
By a slim margin, Republican primary voters also said that Wall Street does more to hurt the economy than help it.
Within the Trump campaign on Tuesday night, euphoria mixed with eagerness to move onto a number of states that are likely to be friendly to Trump.
There have been other pivotal points in the Trump campaign, moments when he was described as becoming newly serious. It never stuck with the famously shoot-from-the-lip candidate. But Manafort is someone whom Trump views as something of a peer.
No matter the margin of victory, New York Republicans gave Trump a restorative psychic boost after weeks when Cruz scored a big victory in the Wisconsin primary and outmaneuvered the Trump campaign in Colorado, Wyoming and elsewhere in winning and electing delegates backing his candidacy.
Trump now has clear momentum heading into the next primaries in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and three other states on Tuesday — so much so that he evinced fresh optimism on Tuesday about ultimately getting to the 1,237 delegates needed to capture the nomination.
“I think I’ll get there,” Trump said in an interview before the polls closed.
New York has not been home to leading presidential candidates in both parties since the 1944 campaigns of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Thomas E. Dewey, so the voting by Clinton and Trump merited significant news media coverage on Tuesday morning. As a light mist fell, Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, cast their votes at an elementary school in their adopted town of Chappaqua.
As news photographers and cameramen kept encroaching on her while she tried to vote, Hillary Clinton finally shooed them away. “Guys, it’s a private ballot,” she said.
The Democratic vote was marred by significant irregularities at polling places across Brooklyn. The city comptroller’s office announced that the Board of Elections had confirmed that more than 125,000 Democratic voters in Brooklyn were dropped between November and this month, while about 63,000 were added — a net loss that was not explained.
Mayor Bill de Blasio described “the purging of entire buildings and blocks of voters,” while the comptroller, Scott Stringer, said his office would audit the Board of Elections.
Trump voted for himself midmorning in New York City, which he called “a great honor” as he entered his apartment building. In the interview later, Trump described the experience of seeing his name on the ballot, saying he was moved by the enormity of what it means. “It does sort of hit you,” he said.
Trump won majorities in all regions except for rural upstate areas. Some Republicans questioned why Cruz spent so little time in upstate New York, where Trump’s support two weeks ago was softer than it appeared. Instead, Cruz devoted his time mostly to the city and to fundraising.
The primary was a seminal moment for Trump, both tactically in terms of delegates needed to clinch the nomination, and mentally, as he tries to right the ship after a rough couple of weeks that prompted him to reshuffle his small team of advisers, adding the seasoned campaign hand, Manafort.
Manafort is said to have focused on trying to bring Trump’s message into sharper relief; to that end, the candidate has given fewer television interviews and, for the first two Sundays in a row of the campaign, did not appear on the network morning shows.
The coming weeks will test whether Trump can temper his message and his style for a new phase of the race, one where running a traditional campaign matters more than his ability to rally crowds. Indeed, Trump’s tone throughout the day was focused on what he repeatedly called, in interviews, a “corrupt” and “rigged” nominating process.
Alfonse M. D’Amato, the former U.S. senator and a backer of Kasich, predicted that his candidate could pick up as many as 10 delegates. But he said that Trump would dominate.
“This will give him momentum that he needs after his setbacks,” D’Amato said, referring to his Wisconsin defeat and the delegates going to Cruz in Colorado.