New York, the home state of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, is the next state on the Republican primary calendar.
According to a round of recent polls, Trump is on the verge of doing something he hasn’t yet accomplished this primary campaign; win an outright majority of the votes cast in the Republican nomination.
A new poll from Fox News, released Sunday, shows Trump leading his Republican challengers with 54 percent support in the Empire State. Ohio Governor John Kasich is second, with 22 percent followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 15 percent.
The Fox poll is consistent with other recent polling in New York. In the RealClearPolitics average of polls conducted since the beginning of April, Trump has 53.5 percent support in New York. Kasich and Cruz are tied for second place.
There isn’t any real doubt over whether Trump will win New York. Crossing the 50 percent threshold, however, doesn’t just provide Trump with bragging rights about finally winning a majority of the Republican vote in a state. Trump’s ability to win the state, and its 27 Congressional Districts, with more than 50 percent of the vote very well could determine whether or not Trump secures the 1,237 delegates he needs to claim the Republican nomination on the first ballot at the RNC convention Clevelend.
The New York primary on April 19 will award 95 delegates to the GOP convention. There are 14 delegates at stake in the statewide vote and another 81 awarded based on results in the state’s Congressional Districts. At both the state-level and Congressional District level, delegates are awarded proportionally, unless a candidate wins with more than 50 percent of the vote. In that case, the winning candidate captures all of the delegates.
If current polling holds, Trump would win all 14 statewide delegates. If he were to win all of the Empire State’s 27 Congressional Districts with more than 50 percent of the vote in each, he would sweep the state and secure all 95 delegates.
Such a result would be an enormous victory for Trump and would indicate that his campaign had rebounded from its overwhelming primary loss in Wisconsin last week. It would be more likely, although still challenging, that Trump would secure a majority of delegates before the RNC convention.
While Kasich and Cruz aren’t contesting the state overall, both campaigns will aggressively try to hold down Trump’s numbers in a handful of Congressional Districts. Holding Trump below 50 percent in a dozen districts, would make it very difficult for Trump to amass the delegates he needs to secure the nomination on the first ballot.
A poll from Emerson College found Trump dominant in 5 Congressional Districts and close to 50 percent in another 11 districts.
That leaves another 9 districts where Trump needs to increase his support to secure all of their delegates.
Trump isn’t going to lose New York, but he needs to win the state in a landslide to pile up delegates while they’re available. His best hope of winning the GOP convention is to win a majority of delegates on the first convention ballot. After the first ballot, delegates are generally free to vote for whomever they support for the nomination.
While current polling shows Trump with a wide lead in New York, he is only just on the edge of winning an outright majority statewide. Trump has rarely over-performed his polling numbers in elections this year, and his share of the vote usually has been a couple points lower than his polling average.
According to one recent poll, from Monmouth University, only 40 percent of New York voters have definitely made up their mind on whom to support. Just over a third, 34 percent, have a strong preference, while the remainder are still considering their choices.
There is still a significant part of the Republican base that is opposed to Donald Trump. Almost a third of Republican primary voters in the state, 27 percent, would vote third party or not vote if Trump were the Republican nominee, according to the Fox News poll. New York is a closed primary state, meaning that only registered Republicans can vote in the election.
In the weeks leading up to the vote in Wisconsin, Trump experienced a drop in his polling numbers across the country and in states still scheduled to vote. One month ago, Emerson College, which currently shows Trump with 56 percent support in New York, showed him with 64 percent support in the state. Two polls at the end of March showed Trump polling a few points higher than he is today.
The question now is whether the almost 10-point drop Trump has experienced in New York over the last month is an outlier, an aberration or the beginning of real weakness in the upcoming primary. Trump’s campaign hit a rough patch following the March 15th primaries.
If Trump can rebound in New York and deliver the landslide win he needs, then the past few weeks will be remembered as just a bump on his road to the nomination. If he wins New York with less than 50 percent of the vote, however, or fails to meet that threshold in many of the state’s Congressional Districts, Trump’s campaign could be said to have suffered its own Ides of March curse.