Five Things You Must Know About the New York GOP Primary

Presidential candidate Donald Trump airs out his tiny thumbs after removing them from his posterior. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen; caption by streiff)
Presidential candidate Donald Trump airs out his tiny thumbs after removing them from his posterior. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen; caption by streiff)

In two weeks New York has its primary. It has a huge pool of delegates. It is Donald Trump’s home state. Trump’s stooges are still in disarray over Trump losing four states in a row to Ted Cruz and they will be out for blood. If Trump runs the table, and his campaign claims they will take over 85 delegates, then Trump could in 1,273 delegates. If he gets mauled, well, candidates who can’t convincingly win their home state just don’t last. In the meantime you’ll hear a lot of stuff about the primary. Some true, much of it bullsh** on stilts. Here are five things you need to know about that primary.


How the New York GOP primary works

New York is a closed primary state and the deadline for registering or changing parties passed on March 25. This is critical and we’ll cover that in a moment. The rules for New York create 28 separate primaries: one for each district and one for the state at large.

For starters, the state’s 95 delegates will be awarded proportionally, rather than on a winner-take-all basis. Beyond that, 81 of those delegates are distributed on the basis of results in the state’s 27 congressional districts.

Trump could gain 14 delegates if he wins more than 50 percent of the statewide vote. Otherwise, he will share those delegates with any rival who tops 20 percent. In any congressional district where he falls short of 50 percent, even if he has the plurality of votes, he will give up one of the three delegates awarded in each of those districts. If he runs second in any district, he would pick up just one delegate.

This, as I pointed out yesterday, renders state-wide polls useless.

Why did Ted Cruz campaign in the Bronx

This is a map of New York’s congressional districts:



So the Trump-fluffing New York Post runs this story Ted Cruz’s campaign stop in the Bronx is a complete dud:

There are more than 1.4 million people in the Bronx — but Ted Cruz couldn’t even muster 100 at a campaign event in Parkchester with state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a conservative Christian minister.

Cruz visited the Sabrosura Chinese-Dominican restaurant, where Diaz said the presidential candidate could “listen to the social, economic and spiritual needs of our community” while dining with other clergymen on the eatery’s famed fried rice and plantains.

Aside from about 70 ministers affiliated with Diaz, only a dozen voters turned up — and two of them were tossed out after screaming protests about the Texas senator’s hardline stance on immigration.

“He is anti-immigrant. He denies climate change. He’s a right-winged bigot and he’s not welcomed here,” said protester Rebel Diaz (no relation to the senator).


This is one those statements that are both true and meaningless at the same time. There may be 1.4 million people in the Bronx but they aren’t all registered voters and they damned sure aren’t registered GOP voters.



The Bronx had 17,000 active GOP voters. That’s it. Plus The Bronx is located in a major media market and coverage there will translate into earned media in a very pricey market. From a messaging standpoint, primary and general election, a GOP candidate showing up in The Bronx is not a bad thing. The heckling is baked in. How you handle the heckling is what counts. Beyond that,  I would contend that being heckled, partially in Spanish, by a couple of wannbe cholo gangsters sporting man-buns is not going to hurt Ted Cruz in any GOP primary, especially as he didn’t turn trained goons lose on them a la Donald Trump. (None of the people in this image are Ted Cruz.)


This is GOP voter registration by Congressional district:

ny reps

The fact is that winning 11,000 Republicans in CD 13 is worth more than winning 90,000 Republicans in CD 21 because the 11,000 gets you over 50% and all three delegates.

While The Bronx is not GOP friendly, the GOP there are probably much more Cruz friendly than Trump friendly.

Why Kasich would help Cruz

The NY primary might be the only place, other than Ohio, where having John Kasich on the ticket helps Ted Cruz. Remember the game here is to keep Trump below 50% in as many CDs as possible. Trump need 80+ delegates from NY to get back on track for 1273. That requires a lot of majorities. The New York GOP is hardly a hotbed of conservatism and a two man contest between Trump and Cruz could result in a non-trivial number of “moderates” to sit it out. Kasich gives them a reason to turn out. In any district where Kasich plays the spoiler to keep Trump below 50%, Ted Cruz has the chance to pick up a delegate.


Party mess

Unlike virtually any other state, NY has a host of minor parties with guaranteed ballot access. The two of most concern are the Conservative Party (148,006 statewide) and the shell of Ross Perot’s Reform Party now called the Independence Party (441,903).

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party gets a lot of attention but it is only conceivably a factor in CD 19 (~7% of the GOP voters) and CDs 20 and 27 (~9% each). The significance is that unless these people changed their party affiliation before March 25 they won’t be voting. As far as to impact, your guess is as good as mine. I’ve heard members of this party who could be either Trump or Cruz voters though, given where they are concentrated, I would bet that this cuts against Trump more than Cruz.

Independence Party

The Independence Party is strongest in CD 1-5. In CD 5, the Independence Party has about 26% of the membership of the GOP.

ind ny

Where this comes into play is that a lot of members of both Conservative and Independence parties vote GOP for president and for their own party in down ballot races. These people are going to show up as Likely GOP voters in polls. But they won’t be able to vote in the primary. Their political leanings will distort the polling. And I am not conversant enough on NY politics to know what that means though I tend to think these folks are probably Trump voters.

State GOP loves it some Donald Trump

The State GOP establishment is behind Trump. This is why Ted Cruz meeting with Rudy Giuliani today was important.


Donald Trump has won the support of more than half of New York state’s 62 Republican county chairs, his campaign announced Wednesday in a show of home-state muscle intended to blunt the momentum of Ted Cruz.

Trump’s three “honorary” co-chairs of his New York leadership team include Buffalo businessman and former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, upstate Rep. Chris Collins and Dutchess County Sheriff Adrian “Butch” Anderson.

Joe Mondello of Nassau County and John LaValle of Suffolk are among the county leaders in the pack of 32 lining up with Trump.

“We’ve been working on this thing for four or five months,” Paladino told Fox News.

How much pull these people have with rank-and-file GOP members is debatable. They undoubtedly will have some but not as much as they think. And, when you’re dealing with yahoos like Carl Paladino you always have to wonder exactly what they have done beyond talk. What it does mean is that Ted Cruz has a hard uphill struggle in New York because the GOP infrastructure is not allied with him.


Keep in your mind two things. Statewide polling is meaningless as the delegates are awarded in a modified winner-take-all manner by Congressional District. And the name of the game is keeping Trump from getting over 50% of the votes in any CD. Anything under 80 delegates out of New York and Trump cannot win on the first ballot in Cleveland which means he can’t win.


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