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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are poised to win some of their biggest victories of the election cycle on Tuesday in their home state of New York.
Almost every major poll in the month before the primary has shown both candidates with a massive lead in their respective presidential primaries.
But though some analysts predicted just a month ago that each would run away with the nomination, a win in New York may not be enough to overcome a month full of setbacks for both candidates.
In recent weeks, Trump’s path to the nomination has hit serious speed bumps.
The real-estate magnate has rearranged his top campaign infrastructure to beat back Sen. Ted Cruz, whose well-organized campaign has helped him pick up a number of delegates in states like Colorado, Georgia, and Wyoming. Recent losses have made it more difficult for Trump to win the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination outright on the first ballot at July’s Republican National Convention.
New York’s 95 delegates – and how many of them Trump is able to pick up – could go a long way in putting Trump on the path toward the magic 1,237 number.
He is hoping to take the vast majority of those delegates. Trump could win all of the state’s delegates if he finishes above 50% statewide and in each of the Empire State’s 27 congressional districts. But if no candidate gets above that 50% threshold in individual districts, then each district’s three delegates are awarded proportionally.
Buoyed by rising poll numbers and a recent string of victories in small primary and caucus states, Clinton’s lone Democratic rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has also shown no signs of throwing in the towel. He is making a strong push in New York, Clinton’s adopted home state, where victory by a single-digit margin could signal weaknesses in her campaign.
Sanders has also ramped up his rhetoric on Clinton over the past few weeks. On Monday, his campaign launched a new line of attack against the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Sanders’ attorney alleged that the Clinton campaign was skirting campaign-finance laws by manipulating a DNC joint-fundraising account to increase small-donor donations that benefit Clinton.
Her campaign railed against Sanders, saying that the self-styled economic populist was needlessly attempting to sully Clinton even though Sanders’ path to victory appears slimmer.
“It’s hard to see how anyone – other than Donald Trump and Ted Cruz – benefits from this downward spiral of irresponsible and baseless attacks,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said in an email blasted out by the campaign. “Right about now is when we ought to be talking about coming together as a progressive movement, not undermining a generation of voters’ faith in the Democratic Party and in the woman who is almost certain to be its nominee.”
Publicly, the Sanders campaign still maintains that it can win.
Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s Democratic debate, Tad Devine, the Sanders campaign’s senior strategist, asserted that the campaign still has a shot regardless of the outcome in New York.
“I think we have to do well here in New York, but there are plenty of events between here and California and Washington, DC, at the end for us to make up the difference,” Devine said. “We were 326 pledged delegates behind on the 15th of March. We are 214 now behind. We’ve shaved a third off of her advantage by winning eight of the last nine contests.”
I’m not going to say that we are going to win every contest between now and the middle of June, but we are going to win most of them. We are going to win by far most of the delegates. We can make up the pledged delegate differential. And I believe, when the voting is over, we will be ahead in pledged delegates.