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.
New York, New York: Frontrunners poised for big wins in the Big Apple
The last couple of weeks haven’t been kind to presidential frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But if the polling is correct, both are poised for big wins in their home state of New York tonight, which would set them up to possibly run the table in the April 26 states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
A Trump win -- if his percentage is well above 50% -- would give him a chance to win all of New York's 95 delegates. (A candidate can win all of the state's delegates by being above 50% both statewide and in each congressional district.) If Trump takes all of the 95 delegates (or close to it), and if he sweeps the April 26 primaries, he would need to win about just 50% of the remaining delegates to hit the magic 1,237 number. So for the "Stop Trump" movement, the name of the game is to keep Trump below 50% in several of the state's congressional districts. But ask yourself: Has the movement done everything it can to stop Trump in New York? Here’s where the GOP delegate race currently stands:
Trump holds a 197-delegate lead over Cruz
Trump needs to win 61% of remaining delegates to reach 1237 magic number
Cruz needs to win 86% of remaining delegates to reach 1237 magic number
Kasich needs to win 140% of remaining delegates to reach 1237 magic number
A Clinton win in New York would make the delegate math tough for Sanders
As for the Democratic race between the Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders and New York transplant Hillary Clinton, a Clinton win in New York -- by almost any margin -- would make the delegate math all but impossible for Sanders. Currently, Clinton needs to win only 33% of all remaining delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination, while Sanders needs to 67%, which is a tough climb given the proportional nature of all Democratic contests. If Clinton gets a 10-point win in New York as the polling suggests, her 33% would go down to 30%. And if she sweeps the April 26 contests, it would go down to 22%. Here’s the Democratic delegate math:
In pledged delegates, Clinton currently holds a lead of 240 delegates (with Washington delegates to still be allocated)
- Clinton 1285 (55%)
- Sanders 1045 (45%)
Clinton must win 43% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates
Sanders must win 57% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates
In overall delegates (pledged + super), Clinton holds an overall lead of 665 delegates
Clinton must win 33% of remaining delegates to reach 2383 magic number
Sanders must win 67% of remaining delegates to reach 2383 magic number
Sanders’ three disadvantages in New York
While the Democratic race in New York is closer than the GOP contest, Sanders is facing three disadvantages that make him the underdog tonight:
- The state is a closed primary, which means that independents (who have been fueling his victories) can't participate. And those voter-registration deadlines ended a while back
- Sanders is losing Jewish Democrats by a 2-to-1 margin, according to last week’s NBC New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. That’s important, because Clinton and Sanders have essentially fought to a draw among white voters. But if Jewish New Yorkers are breaking by that margin to Clinton, her percentage among whites is likely to increase.
- As MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald has written, one in nine New York City jobs are tied directly or indirectly to the securities industry, which complicates Sanders’ anti-Wall Street message. The polls in New York close at 9:00 pm ET.
Friendly Fire: What happens when the frontrunners take incoming from within the party
By now, you’ve probably seen the awful favorable/unfavorable numbers for the presidential frontrunners in our new NBC/WSJ poll. Trump is at 24%-65% (-41) -- the worst rating for a major presidential candidate in the history of our poll. Hillary Clinton is at 32%-56% (-24), down 11 total points from a month ago. And Ted Cruz at 26%-49% (-23). These terrible numbers will make it VERY hard for the next president to govern. But one of the explanations for these poor numbers -- though certainly not the only reason -- is the friendly fire they’ve taken from within the party as the primary season has gone on. Just look at these numbers inside the poll’s crosstabs, from best to worse:
- Sanders’s fav/unfav among Clinton voters: 60%-19% (+41)
- Kasich’s fav/unfav among Cruz voters: 35%-17% (+18)
- Kasich’s fav/unfav among Trump voters: 28%-21% (+7)
- Clinton’s fav/unfav among Sanders voters: 40%-41% (-1)
- Cruz’s fav/unfav among Trump voters: 30%-46% (-16)
- Trump’s fav/unfav among Cruz voters: 25%-56% (-31)
- Trump’s fav/unfav amon Kasich voters: 10%-71% (-61)
Folks, this also partly explains why Kasich (at 31%-19% overall) and Sanders (45%-36%) are the two most popular presidential candidates in our poll: They’re not getting hit as much from within the party. By comparison, here are the intraparty fav/unfav scores for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the April 2008 NBC/WSJ poll, after that primary battle had taken a nasty turn:
- Obama’s fav/unfav among Clinton voters: 45%-34% (+11)
- Clinton’s fav/unfav among Obama voters: 45%-37% (+8)
How does Sanders land the plane?
Given the numbers above, it will be interesting to see the rhetoric coming from Sanders and his campaign if they end up losing New York by double digits. Sanders has EARNED the right to have a voice within the Democratic Party going forward. But what does he want? And will he do it in a way that can maximize influencing the party? Because things like this doesn’t help win friends and influence people inside your own party. The Washington Post : “Bernie Sanders accused rival Hillary Clinton on Monday of appearing to violate campaign finance laws with her expansive use of a joint fundraising committee set up last year with the national party. The controversy seemed to further sour relations between the two Democratic hopefuls at a point in the campaign where their patience with one another had already worn extremely thin, as evidenced by their testy debate in Brooklyn this week." In a conference call with reporters, per NBC’s Kristen Welker and Andrea Mitchell, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook categorically denied the Sanders camp’s allegations. Mook added, “We expect that Secretary Clinton will be the nominee, particularly after tomorrow. Sen. Sanders and his campaign need to decide if they’re going to continue on this line of attack. He needs to decide if he wants to continue making attacks on the Democratic Party itself and on allied groups like Planned Parenthood.”
NBC/WSJ poll: 52% want Senate to vote on filling SCOTUS vacancy this year
Finally, a majority of voters now say that they believe the United States Senate should vote on President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, according to a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll. In the poll, 52% of registered voters said that the Senate should vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland, whom Obama tapped for the job last month. Three in ten say that lawmakers should leave the court seat vacant until the next president takes office, and 18% have no opinion.
On the trail
Hillary Clinton gives a speech at the Building Trades Union Conference in DC before holding her Election Watch party in New York… Bernie Sanders campaigns in Pennsylvania, including holding a 7:00 pm ET rally at Penn State… Donald Trump will be in New York tonight… Ted Cruz stumps in Philly… And John Kasich hits both Pennsylvania and Maryland.