NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Voters across New York state headed to the polls to cast their ballots in Tuesday’s primaries as Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton hope to emerge victorious from contests that offer big delegate hauls.
It’s not often that New Yorkers’ votes are pivotal in a presidential primary and many at polling places Tuesday wanted to make sure theirs count.
“We have so many important issues here in this city,” Upper West Side resident Susie Hochenberg told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “We’re really microcosm for the whole country.”
Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, cast their ballots Tuesday morning at an elementary school in Chappaqua – the Westchester County hamlet where they moved after President Clinton left office – amid a crush of supporters.
PHOTOS: Primary Day In New York
Secretary Clinton kept her post-vote remarks brief and upbeat, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“I love New York,” she said. “And this has been a joy during the last two weeks to be here all over the state, and I hope everybody gets out to vote.”
The Clintons, who have lived in Chappaqua for 16 years, spent about 30 minutes shaking hands, snapping selfies and thanking local residents, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
“This community has been very good to us, we know our neighbors,” Bill Clinton said. “A wonderful way to end a great campaign here.”
Among those in the crowd was Dawn Greenberg, founder of the group Chappaqua Friends of Hillary.
“She’s down to earth, she’s so approachable and I think that’s sometimes a bad rap that she’s gotten, that she’s not,” Greenberg told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.
Miles to the south on the Upper West Side, turnout was steady. The neighborhood boosted Clinton eight years ago, and she was counting on it again on Tuesday.
“I hope she wins by a lot,” Hochenberg said. “She deserves it. She’s presidential. She has the experience.”
To many political observers, Clinton looked more relaxed this time around. Her campaign focused on retail politics – greeting voters on the subway, and even breaking her own rule about eating in public on Monday when she appeared at an ice cream shop in the West Village.
Brooklyn native Bernie Sanders found a warm welcome of his own in New York. He turned out impressive crowds at enthusiastic rallies – including one in Long Island City, Queens Monday night.
“This is a campaign on the move,” Sanders shouted to a crowd of thousands gathered along the waterfront in Queens. “This is a movement getting the establishment very, very nervous.”
When the deadline for choosing a party passed in New York last October, Sanders was way down in the polls. He had to hope enough of his supporters registered as Democrats in time.
Sanders supporter Steven DeGracia, 34, certainly did.
“I’ve followed him since I was 13 years old in mock Congress,” DeGracia said. “Loved the man then, told my parents forever, ‘He’s going to be president!’”
Sanders made a last-minute pitch for New York support on Tuesday morning, on a walk through Midtown with his wife, Jane.
“I think we’re going to do just fine,” he said.
Clinton’s campaign has cast New York as a make-or-break moment for the Democratic race. A loss in her adopted home state would be a devastating political blow. But a big win would bolster her delegate lead over Sanders and put her closer to becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major political party.
Up to this point, Clinton has accumulated 1,758 delegates to Sanders’ 1,076. Those totals include both pledged delegates from primaries and caucuses, as well as superdelegates, the party insiders who can back the candidate of their choice regardless of how their state votes. It takes 2,383 to win the Democratic nomination.
Sanders needs to win 68 percent of the remaining delegates if he hopes to clinch the Democratic nomination.
On the GOP side, Trump voted at a synagogue near Trump Tower on the East Side of Manhattan, surrounded by a crush of reporters.
He said it was a “great honor” to be able to vote for himself.
“I’m really honored and putting in that vote today was really something terrific,” he told CNN. “My whole reason for doing this is to make America great again.”
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, it was all about the big D for Trump on Tuesday – delegates, that is. Trump wants to win it all in New York and score a shutout over his two opponents.
While Trump exuded his patented confidence as he voted, he was likely praying for a little divine intervention to help him – as they say in the casino business – run the table.
“I think I am going to do well. We’ll see. Who knows, it’s politics. You know that better than I do,” Trump said. “I think we’ll do really well – great support. You see all the people over there, really positive. No hecklers, no nothing, so I think we’re going to do really well.”
To avoid a floor fight at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, Trump needs to get his campaign mojo back. And after losing the last four contests to rival Ted Cruz, he needs to boost his delegate count.
The 95 delegates for New York will certainly help, but the question is whether he can seal the nomination outright. He will need more than 50 percent of the vote in each of the state’s 27 congressional districts for that to happen.
Rival John Kasich thinks Trump will not succeed at that mission. Kasich is hoping to grab about a dozen delegates in upstate districts.
A recent survey by Optimus Consulting found that Trump was above the 50 percent threshold in five districts, within the margin of error in 14 districts, and below 50 percent in eight districts.
That is the reason for Kasich’s optimism. He was campaigning in Pittsburgh on Tuesday ahead of the Pennsylvania primary next week.
Cruz, second in the total number of delegates, made a few campaign stops in New York. But he was given little chance of scoring delegates in the state.
Still, if the race is not settled by July, Trump faces the very real prospect of losing to Cruz, whose campaign is mastering the complicated process of lining up individual delegates who could shift their support to the Texas senator after the first round of convention balloting.
“If I’m the nominee, we win the general election,” Cruz said.
Cruz, who infamously panned Trump’s “New York values” earlier in the primary, was bracing for a tough showing in the state. He was already looking ahead on the primary calendar, holding events Tuesday in Pennsylvania, which votes next week.
Trump leads the GOP race with 755 delegates, ahead of Cruz with 558 and Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 143. Securing the GOP nomination requires 1,237 delegates.
Polls close at 9 p.m.
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