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First Read: Trump, Clinton Have the Advantage in New York

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.

Trump rails against delegate system - but is it benefiting him? 3:10

One week out, Trump, Clinton have the advantage in New York

So much for any momentum coming out of last week’s Wisconsin primary. According to a new NBC/WSJ/Marist poll of New York -- conducted entirely after the Wisconsin results -- Donald Trump leads John Kasich by 33 points, 54%-21%, with Wisconsin winner Ted Cruz in third at 18%. In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton is ahead of Wisconsin victor Bernie Sanders by 14 points, 55%-41%. And it’s just not our poll; every New York survey we’ve seen has Trump above 50% (which would put him in a position to possibly win all of New York’s delegates), and has Clinton leading by double digits. It’s a reminder that, for all of the attention on momentum, demographics and geography continue to play the bigger role in these 2016 primary contests. Of course, we still have another week to go until the April 19 New York primary.

64% of New York Republicans say Trump should be the nominee if he’s ahead in delegates (but short of 1237)

Digging inside the NBC/WSJ poll, Trump sits at 50% or above among groups in New York -- those who strongly support a candidate (64%), Republicans (58%), conservatives (59%), men (58%), non-college grads (57%), and college grads (50%). Where Trump is below 50% -- women (48%) and those not married (49%). Also in the poll, 64% of likely New York Republican voters say the Republican Party should still nominate Trump for president if he's won the most delegates but not enough to be nominated on the first ballot, versus 28% who believe the party should nominate someone else under those circumstances. Folks, this is potentially a powerful message for Trump, and it’s not surprising he’s already using it: If you’re ahead of your nearest competition in delegates, in states won, and in the popular vote, can opponents really deny you the nomination?

30% of Sanders supporters in New York say they wouldn’t back Clinton in a general election

Digging inside the Democratic race, Clinton leads Sanders among African Americans (68%-28%), those ages 45 and older (66%-30%), those who strongly support a candidate (60%-40%), and women (58%-38%). Sanders, meanwhile, holds the advantage among those younger than 45 (62%-37%) and those who describe themselves as "very liberal" (59%-40%). The two are running roughly even among men and Latinos. Geographically, Clinton is ahead of Sanders in New York City (58%-39%) and in the suburbs (61%-36%), but Sanders holds a one-point lead in Upstate New York (49%-48%). But get this: 30% of likely Democratic voters who support Sanders say they wouldn't support Clinton in a general election, compared with 15% of Clinton voters who say that about Sanders. So the Sanders crowd is more anti-Clinton than the Clinton crowd is anti-Sanders. Still, both Clinton and Sanders easily beat Trump, Cruz and Kasich in hypothetical general-election matchups in the blue state of New York.

If “Stop Trump" is about stopping Trump, where is the cavalry in New York?

Going back to the Republican presidential race, our latest ad-spending shows that anti-Trump groups haven’t spent a single cent on TV ads in New York; in fact, the only Republican spending any money in the Empire State is Team Kasich (at $177,000). If “Stop Trump” is about stopping Trump -- and denying him a sweep of New York’s 95 delegates -- where is the cavalry? Why aren’t they dropping six-figure ad buys in congressional districts to keep Trump below 50% (to keep him from winning all the delegates)?

Why Blue Republican Voters Will Begin to Control the GOP Primary 1:43

By the way, here is where the GOP delegate race currently stands.

Trump holds a 211-delegate lead over Cruz

  • Trump 756 (45% of delegates won)
  • Cruz 545 (32%)
  • Rubio 172 (10%)
  • Kasich 143 (9%)

Trump needs to win 61% of remaining delegates to reach 1237 magic number

Cruz needs to win 87% of remaining delegates to reach 1237 magic number

Kasich needs to win 138% of remaining delegates to reach 1237 magic number

Flashback: 08' Democratic Race Delegate Count 2:22

How do Democratic superdelegates work? Here’s what you need to know

Yesterday, we published this explainer on how superdelegates work in the Democratic race:

  • Who are they? They are, for the most part, current and former Democratic politicians. (Bill Clinton is a superdelegate; so is Bernie Sanders.) They make up 15% of all delegates (714 out of 4,765) - down from 20% in 2008. And they are free to support the presidential candidate of their choice at the convention.
  • Can superdelegates switch sides? Yes. And this is one of the arguments that Sanders' campaign has made -- that the superdelegates who are supporting Clinton now might back Sanders later. That said, back in ’08, no more than about 30 superdelegates switched from Clinton to Barack Obama before Clinton dropped out of the race in early June 2008, according to former Obama campaign officials. And that is after Obama took the lead in pledged delegates.
  • Have they ever contradicted the pledged delegate score? No. Since they were established beginning in the 1984 presidential cycle as a way to give party leaders more say in the process, superdelegates have never changed the outcome of the primary season.
  • How did the ’08 superdelegate battle play out? On the Super Tuesday of the 2008 Democratic race, Clinton enjoyed a lead of about 100 superdelegates over Obama, according to NBC's count back then. But that superdelegate advantage began to shrink after Obama held a sustained advantage in pledged delegates. And Obama overtook her in superdelegates at the end of the primary season.

Here is the current delegate count in the Dem race:

In pledged delegates, Clinton holds a lead of 246 delegates (with Washington delegates to still be allocated)

  • Clinton 1288 (55%)
  • Sanders 1042 (45%)

In superdelegates, Clinton holds a lead of 422 delegates

  • Clinton 460
  • Sanders 38

In overall delegates (pledged + super), Clinton holds an overall lead of 668 delegates

  • Clinton 1748 (62%)
  • Sanders 1080 (38%)

Clinton must win 33% of remaining delegates to reach 2383 magic number

Sanders must win 67% of remaining delegates to reach 2383 magic number

On the trail

Hillary Clinton stumps in Manhattan, while husband Bill Clinton hits Flushing, NY… Bernie Sanders hits Upstate New York, including Rochester, Syracuse, and Poughkeepsie… Donald Trump holds a rally in Rome, NY at 4:00 pm ET… And John Kasich campaigns in Brooklyn.