The New York primary on April 19 marked major wins for Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, setting the stage for a decisive California primary on June 7.
The two states’ primaries are very similar: both award delegates by congressional district — though in California, the three GOP delegates in each are awarded on a winner-takes-all basis, regardless of whether a candidate reaches 50%.
There are five key lessons from New York for California.
1. California could be a coronation, not a contest, for Clinton. Though Clinton may not have a majority of delegates by June 7, her 15-point-plus win in New York means that she will have momentum over the next several weeks. Even if she does lose California — and though the race is tightetning, she still leads — she will likely win enough delegates to put her over the top. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) can only win through superdelegates. California looks like the left’s last, symbolic stand.
2. Cruz is in major trouble in liberal, urban districts. New York presented unique problems for Cruz, who attacked “New York values” during the Iowa caucuses and doubled down on that disastrous phrase in the Empire State. The problem with “New York values,” however, is broader: it signals a general intolerance for urbane voters, and diminishes Cruz’s potential as a national candidate. Though he is doing well in parts of L.A., Cruz may face a major backlash in much of coastal California.
3. Kasich has potential in elite urban districts. The Ohio governor eked out a win in New York’s 12th district, including the Upper East Side and the East Village, in addition to parts of Queens and Brooklyn. That suggests that California’s own 12th district, in downtown San Francisco — which Breitbart News has projected as a potential Kasich pickup — could also be in play, along with the 6th (Sacramento) and a few others. Look for Kasich to pour most of his resources into those districts.
4. Trump is ready to go rural. Rather than resting on his laurels and his lead, Trump took his campaign to upstate New York, where he campaigned in the hinterland and drew a record-breaking crowd of 20,000 in Buffalo. In California, Trump will need to take the fight to Cruz’s “safe” districts in the rural Central Valley if he hopes to win a large enough majority of delegates — perhaps 75% of the available 172 — to have a serious shot at the 1,237 threshold. It looks like he will go there.
5. Small numbers of voters could make a big difference. Kasich only won New York’s 12th district by 70 votes; Cruz spent time in districts with very few Republicans in the hope of swaying a few dozen voters. We are likely to see even more such micro-targeting in California, where a candidate who wins a plurality of the vote in a district takes all three delegates. That is precisely the purpose of California’s rules: to force Republicans to campaign in unusual places. Look out: here they come.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.