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Eye On Candidates
April 14, 2016

Clinton’s New York firewall may hold

For much of the Democratic nomination fight, the campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that certain states or dates represented a "firewall," meaning the point at which she would win in a sufficiently convincing manner that it would erase any and all doubts about her status as the presumptive nominee, and effectively reduce her challenger to little more than an afterthought. Those firewalls have largely failed - even as she won narrowly in her first firewall of Nevada and scored an overwhelming victory in her second, South Carolina, she failed to effectively lock up the nomination.

Next week, New York holds its primary, and once again the Clinton team is talking about the state as a firewall. The difference this time, at least judging by the following USA Today article, is that this one might just hold:

How Hillary Clinton plans to hold off Bernie Sanders in New York

Hillary Clinton is keeping a lid on Bernie Sanders’ appeal in New York — by touting her Senate record upstate and pounding him on the gun issue in the Big Apple.

It’s a two-pronged strategy to appeal to liberal and black voters around Manhattan on the one issue where she’s to the left of the Vermont senator — firearms — while emphasizing to upstate voters her efforts on jobs as a U.S. senator.

New York is a critical battleground for both candidates, and recent polls show Clinton with a double-digit lead. Though Clinton maintains a large pledged delegate lead over Sanders, a narrower victory in the state she represented in the Senate for eight years would raise questions about her strength as a general election candidate.

For his part, Sanders seems to have some chance of winning or at least doing well in up-state New York, where the demographics fit closer to the states where he has won so far. The problem for him is that there just aren't enough up-state voters to offset the massive urban population:

Clinton figures to fare well in and around New York City, which has a large population of minority and affluent voters, demographic groups that favored her in other states. Perhaps most importantly, New York's primary is closed to independent voters who’ve bolstered Sanders in states like New Hampshire....

Most of New York’s population is clustered around Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn, where Clinton is in the lead, according to a Monmouth University poll. Sanders is strongest upstate, according to the poll, and it’s there that Clinton is soaking the airwaves with ads about her jobs efforts.

It's unlikely that a big win in New York for Clinton will push Sanders out of the race, but it is likely to diminish his already narrow chances of overtaking her even further. If that's how it plays out, Clinton will finally have found a firewall that held.