Buried deep in a new NBC/WSJ poll is a curious finding. When asked which candidate is the “real New Yorker,” Democrat voters are split between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Just 40 percent of Democrat voters say Hillary is the “real New Yorker,” while an equal 40 percent say that distinction goes to the Vermont Sen. Sanders.
One out of five Democrat voters aren’t sure which is the real New Yorker.
Hillary does slightly better on the question among likely Democrat primary voters, edging Sanders by three points on the question, 42-39. That advantage is still within the poll’s margin of error, however.
It’s a rather stunning verdict on Hillary Clinton, who famously moved to the state to run for its vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2000. She was reelected to a second term by a wide margin in 2006. Clinton resigned her Senate seat, of course, to serve as President Obama’s Secretary of State.
Since leaving the White House, moreover, Hillary and her husband Bill have made their home in New York. Their daughter Chelsea lives in the city, and Hillary’s campaign headquarters is in Brooklyn.
Hillary also has the strong backing of New York’s Democrat political establishment. New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio endorsed her recently, just a week ahead of the critical primary on April 19th.
Bernie Sanders, of course, has represented Vermont in Congress since 1990. He has lived in Vermont since 1968, where he settled soon after college. Sanders was born and raised in Brooklyn but has lived outside of the state for more than 50 years.
Like most things in the Democrat primary, this poll finding says more about Hillary Clinton than Bernie Sanders. Despite the lavish attention the Clintons pay to New York state, she seems still to be dodging the “carpetbagger” label that haunted her first campaign for the Senate. In that election, she defeated GOP Rep. Rick Lazio by just 10 points in an otherwise big Democrat year in the state.
Hillary still has the edge over Sanders in the primary next week, although her margin has slipped in recent days. In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, she leads Sanders by 13 points. In early March, she led the Vermont Senator by 20 points. Just a few months ago, she led Sanders by 40 points in the Empire State.
Defeating Sanders by less than a 10 point margin would be a big blow to Clinton’s campaign. She considers New York her most recent “home state.” According to this poll, at least, many New Yorkers don’t share that view.