Hillary Clinton cruised to victory in the New York primary Tuesday night, securing the dominant win she needed to halt Sen. Bernard Sanders’ momentum and tighten her grip on the Democratic presidential nomination.
With about 73 percent of the vote in, Mrs. Clinton led with 58 percent to 42 percent for Mr. Sanders, a margin even larger than surveys indicated in the days leading up to the vote.
The Clinton campaign desperately needed Tuesday’s win. Heading into New York, Mr. Sanders had won eight of the previous nine Democratic primaries and caucuses, and those victories — along with the passion of his progressive supporters and his impressive fundraising prowess — had put a sizable dent in Mrs. Clinton’s aura of inevitability.
But the New York win puts Mrs. Clinton back in the driver’s seat heading toward the April 26 slate of Northeastern contests in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. The big win in New York also will add to Mrs. Clinton’s already impressive lead in the delegate race and make it difficult to see a realistic path to the nomination for Mr. Sanders.
In a victory speech at her New York City headquarters, Mrs. Clinton said her win in New York is further proof that her campaign can succeed in all corners of America.
“In this campaign, we’ve won in every region of the country, from the North to the South to the East to the West, but this one is personal. New Yorkers, you’ve always had my back, and I’ve always tried to have yours. Today, together, we did it again, and I am deeply grateful,” she said.
But she also extended an olive branch to Sanders supporters, many of whom have expressed serious reservations about supporting Mrs. Clinton in the fall.
“To all the people who supports Sen. Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us.”
A strong performance among minority voters appears to once again have been key to Mrs. Clinton’s success.
ABC News’ exit polling found that about 40 percent of the Democratic voters in New York were nonwhite, an advantage for Mrs. Clinton, who has performed much better than Mr. Sanders among black and Hispanic voters.
Exit polls also found that a vast majority of Democrats say the fight between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders has been good for the party. About 70 percent of New York Democrats said the primary process has energized the party, not hurt it.
Regardless of the result, Mr. Sanders said his campaign will continue.
“This is a very important day, but there are other days that follow,” he said in an interview with New York City’s WABC radio. “We’re going to California. The people of every state in this country must have the right to make a choice about who they want to be the Democratic nominee, and that’s certainly going to happen. We’re going to the convention in July.”
On the ground in New York, there were reports that as many as 125,000 Brooklyn Democrats inadvertently had their names removed from registration lists and were unable to vote. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Clinton supporter, has called for an investigation.
The voter fiasco in New York comes after both the Sanders and Clinton campaigns joined the Democratic National Committee to sue the state of Arizona on charges of voter suppression in the state’s primary election last month.
The Democratic race turned nasty in the lead-up to the New York primary. Both candidates openly questioned the other’s qualifications, and the senator from Vermont charged that the Clinton campaign was bending campaign finance laws as it raised huge sums of cash from Wall Street and Hollywood donors.
Mr. Sanders specifically objects to the Clinton campaign holding joint fundraisers with the Democratic National Committee and other party arms.
By hosting such fundraisers, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party are able to raise more money, and the Sanders camp argues that such a system allows the former secretary of state to skirt individual donation limits and other finance regulations.
The Clinton campaign shot back that the attacks are “irresponsible and poisonous” and pointed out that President Obama used similar joint fundraising structures with the DNC in 2008 and 2012.
They argue that the Sanders campaign, trailing badly in the delegate count and bracing for a loss in New York, has become desperate.
“This latest incident is part of a troubling pattern of behavior — occurring just as Bernie’s mathematical odds of winning the nomination dwindle toward zero — in which Sanders and his team are not just debating us on issues (which we all agree is perfectly fair), but rather attacking Hillary Clinton’s character, integrity, and motivations,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook wrote in a memo Monday night.
There is truth to Mr. Mook’s assertion that the delegate math is not on Mr. Sanders’ side. Before New York, Mrs. Clinton led Mr. Sanders 1,758 to 1,076 in the delegate count, according to an Associated Press tally. Among pledged delegates, she leads 1,289 to 1,045.
Among Democratic Party superdelegates, she leads 469 to 31.
There were 247 pledged delegates at stake in the New York primary, and the state also has 44 superdelegates who are free to back whomever they wish.
As he braced for an expected loss, Mr. Sanders preemptively blamed New York voting laws for his defeat. The senator routinely has done well in states with open primaries, and has garnered a much greater share of the independent vote than has Mrs. Clinton.
But New York hosts a closed primary, and only registered Democrats can participate.
“Today, 3 million people in the state of New York who are independents have lost their right to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. That’s wrong,” he told supporters in New York on Monday.