By Jonathan Allen
US Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is throwing a concert in a park with a dramatic view of Manhattan’s skyscrapers. At the northern end of New York state, Republican front-runner Donald Trump will hold a rally in Buffalo, a Rust Belt city recovering from economic decline.
The Democratic front-runner, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who represented New York for eight years in the US Senate and whose main home is in a New York City suburb, remains the favourite to win the nomination.
By the end of Monday, the last official day of campaigning before voting in the state’s Democratic and Republican primary elections begin, thousands of New Yorkers will have heard the candidates’ closing pitches.
New York‘s primary is expected to be the most decisive in decades in terms of picking the nominees for November’s general election. The date for the contests was shifted back this year so they are no longer crowded out by the raft of other states that voted on so-called Super Tuesday last month.
Barring an upset on the Republican side, Trump, whose name adorns condominiums and hotels across New York City, is expected to win handily in his native state.
“You’re going to look back and say, ‘That was the greatest vote I’ve ever cast, ever, ever, ever,'” the billionaire businessman promised cheering supporters on Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs and its most solidly Republican one.
The question is whether Trump will make a clean sweep of all 95 Republican delegates at stake by earning the majority of votes in all 27 congressional districts in the state.
Total victory in New York would help Trump avoid the prospect of seeing the nomination wrested from him at the party’s July 18-21 convention in Cleveland if he arrives without a clear majority of at least 1,237 delegates. In that scenario, another candidate could win on a second or subsequent ballot.
New York‘s contest comes after Cruz was awarded all 14 delegates in Wyoming’s nominating contest, according to a party official on Saturday in the latest state-by-state delegate battle.
Trump’s Republican rivals, Ted Cruz, a US senator from Texas, and Ohio Governor John Kasich, have no strong ties to New York, though they have gamely showed up at campaign events to relish local delicacies.
Cruz, Trump’s closest rival, has been criticized by some voters for speaking disdainfully of “New York values” earlier this year in an attempt to discredit Trump.
Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America” in Times Square on Monday, Cruz defended his statement, saying New Yorkers have “suffered under the left-wing Democratic policies” of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
While Trump holds a rally in Buffalo, Cruz will campaign in New York City. Kasich will be in Syracuse and Schenectady, two upstate New York cities.
Still, recent polls show Sanders, a US senator from Vermont and native of Brooklyn, cutting Clinton’s earlier 30-percentage-point lead by about two-thirds after an unbroken string of victories in the last eight nominating contests.
On Monday Sanders acknowledged polls still showed him behind Clinton but told NBC’s ‘Today’ program: “Let’s look at the real poll tomorrow.”
Sanders drew about 28,000 people to a Brooklyn park on Sunday, according to his campaign. He is hoping for more crowds at his concert and rally at a park alongside the East River in the New York City borough of Queens on Monday evening.
Sanders needs to defy expectations with a strong victory if he is to overtake Clinton.
Clinton will campaign in Manhattan on Monday while her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will head upstate to Buffalo and Rochester.