New York Values: Donald Trump Looks for Big Homecoming Victory After Tough Month

Donald Trump
The Associated Press
Washington, DC

GOP voters in New York State will vote on Tuesday to select their choice for president, and the Empire State primary couldn’t come at a better time for frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump.

Trump is expected to win big in his home state on Tuesday and score a huge portion of the state’s plum 95 delegate prize. It remains to be seen how well he’ll do, but the energy boost from a New York victory might be just what the real estate developer and consummate outsider needs to bounce back from a rough past few weeks.

Trump is coming off the worst month on the campaign trail since announcing his canidacy last summer, a month that has perhaps most importantly seen his fledgling team get beat by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in delegate battles in Louisiana, Colorado, Wyoming, and more. But he has also experienced a series of critical missteps when it comes to things like social media, and he’s been haunted by the now-dropped charges against his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as it relates to an incident with ex-Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields in early March.

What’s more, clashes with Cuz over their wives and questionable policy answers to the the media about abortion and nuclear weapons matters have further complicated Trump’s efforts to get back on message.

Every candidate for the White House inevitably goes through a rough patch, and as with everything when it comes to Trump, this one is more dramatic than most. A decisive win in New York could turn Trump’s luck around.

He is currently polling more than 30 points ahead of everyone else at home, according to the latest averages from RealClearPolitics. But, because of such high polling differences between Trump and his rivals, expectations are much higher for Trump on Tuesday: he has to win big, and decisively. A squeaker in which he walks away with a victory but not a huge proportion of delegates over his opponents would almost certainly drag this bitter battle into a contested convention.

Party insiders have been working against Trump every chance they’ve had, and propelled Sen. Cruz to victories in places like Wisconsin and Colorado. Trump’s last win, shockingly and in large part due to the nature of the calendar, was all the way back four weeks ago in the state of Arizona—when the news of the day was the terrorist attack that rocked Brussels that morning.

Over the course of this testing month for Trump, he has made some significant behind-the-scenes improvements—bringing aboard insiders like ex-Gerald Ford and ex-Ronald Reagan convention aide Paul Manafort as his convention and delegate manager, and ex-Scott Walker campaign manager Rick Wiley as his political director—but those have yet to fully play out in public.

Battles behind the scenes inside the Trump campaign for control between Lewandowski and Manafort have been exacerbated by Trump’s children’s backing of Manafort due to Lewandowski’s lack of preparedness on these delegate battles, but not until the fights ahead will Manafort’s true ability be tested.

Meanwhile, Trump is going to face battles over whether bringing GOP insiders into a tightly-knit operation is going to mesh smoothly, not to mention his being able to explain why bringing on insiders he’s railed against in the past doesn’t make him a hypocrite. All that remains to be seen.

But most importantly for the recently struggling GOP frontrunner, he’s got a huge win in store on Tuesday—the only question that remains is how big it will be—and then several states vote a week later that are also likely to be favorable to him: Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

New York offers 95 delegates on Tuesday, a huge prize. Fourteen go to the statewide winner, and three are handed out per each of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Each district offers their delegates on a proportional basis if no candidate reaches 50 percent in the district. Polling, however, suggests Trump may just hit 50 percent in many of these districts—meaning he’d get all three delegates in such places—so what Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Cruz have been doing is targeting certain congressional districts with the hopes of blocking Trump from hitting 50 percent everywhere.

If Trump hits 70 delegates statewide, he’ll be able to claim the state as a victory—but he’s likely to get more than that if he does really well in many of these districts. If he wins, for instance, 17 of the 27 districts by more than 50 percent he’d win at least 65 delegates from those districts plus the statewide totals—and perhaps as many as 20 more from other districts from which he’d earn two delegates. That would put him at 85 delegates in New York. There’s a whole bunch of scenarios that could play out over the next 24 hours, but each of them is looking good for Trump.

And while Trump has certainly had a rough go of things, the past few weeks haven’t been much better for Cruz—at least in the Empire State, where he had poor showings at events in the Bronx and was essentially ignored at the state GOP gala in New York City. Cruz, some including Lewandowski predict, may even finish in third behind Kasich and Trump on Tuesday—something that could significantly reverse the momentum in this race.