Clinton leans on city; Trump dominates everywhere but home

AP News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2016 4:39 PM
Clinton leans on city; Trump dominates everywhere but home

WASHINGTON (AP) — The big city loves Hillary Clinton more than ever, but the rest of New York isn't quite as keen on her as in the past.

New York City and its surrounding areas anchored the Democratic presidential leader's big primary win Tuesday, padding the one-time New York senator's lead over Bernie Sanders in both pledged delegates and the national popular vote.

But the outcome showed a marked shift from eight years ago, when Clinton won the city by a smaller margin but also outpolled then-Sen. Barack Obama in every other region of the state, including a better than two-to-one margin in the state's most rural swath.

The shift also is reflected in the racial breakdowns of the results: Exit polls taken Tuesday for the Associated Press and television networks show Clinton with significantly more African-American support this year than in 2008, while losing ground among white voters.

The shift would appear most stark on a map. Clinton defeated Obama in 61 out of 62 counties. She defeated Sanders in just 13, including the five in New York City.

Yet, the bottom line is math: Clinton won where the most voters live.

The outcome reinforces a long-standing trend for Democrats. The party is increasingly reliant on urban, racially diverse areas, while more rural and small-town pockets, typically older and whiter, have trended more conservative — or at least away from the political preferences of their brethren in the city.

Clinton eclipsed 63 percent of the vote Tuesday in New York City, trouncing Sanders by 27-percentage points and making the city her strongest source of support among the state's various regions. Clinton won the city by 12 points over Obama in 2008.

Conversely, Sanders claimed his lone regional win in the rural upstate, 58 percent to 40 percent. The same band of farming country, small towns and a few small cities gave Clinton 66 percent of its 2008 primary vote to Obama's 30 percent, Clinton's widest regional margin in that contest.

Clinton also lost measurable ground Tuesday in the urban upstate, where she and Sanders battled to a draw (a 20-point Clinton win in 2008), and on Long Island, though New York's eastern suburbs and exurbs still gave her a 19-point margin over Sanders (compared to 62-35 over Obama).

The former secretary of state's support remained essentially constant only in the Hudson Valley, a group of 11 counties that stretch from New York City's northern suburbs through the capital region of Albany.

Statewide, Clinton and Sanders split whites roughly evenly, down from Clinton winning about six out of 10 eight years ago. Three out of four black voters sided with Clinton this year, flipping Obama's 61-37 advantage in 2008. Exit polls show Clinton won Hispanic majorities both eight years ago and again Tuesday.

The urban-rural and racial dynamics benefited Clinton for much of 2008, as she styled herself as the more moderate, conventional choice against Obama, then a 47-year-old junior senator from Illinois who excited young and minority voters on his way to becoming the nation's first black president.

Clinton still isn't the more liberal of Democrats' choices by most measures — Sanders, a self-declared democratic socialist, wants to expand the scope of the federal government, and Clinton generally is more hawkish on foreign policy.

But Clinton has run unabashedly as the candidate for non-white Democrats, mitigating Sanders' strength among young voters and white urban liberals.

She's hammered Sanders, who has represented the more rural Vermont in Washington for 25-plus years, as a tool of the National Rifle Association, a tactic that appeals well to urban minorities concerned about gun violence. (Urban whites also are generally more supportive of gun restrictions than voters outside urban centers.)

Leading up to New York's vote, she framed Vermont's gun laws — among the nation's most relaxed — as a leading factor in the trafficking of weapons into New York. Criminal justice experts said Clinton misrepresented statistics to make her point, glossing over the so-called "iron pipeline" of Atlantic seaboard states that send far more weapons to New York.

The exit polls show 6 in 10 New York Democratic primary voters considered Clinton the better candidate to handle gun policy.

There was no such stark regional divide among Republicans, as native New Yorker Donald Trump won 61 out of 62 counties in a dominating performance over Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who finished third in a profound rebuke of his repeated mockery of "New York values," an insult he originally levelled against Trump as the nominating contest played out across the South.

Of course, Trump's lone loss hit closest to home: Kasich won Manhattan, where the Trump lives, bases his worldwide real estate empire and where he launched his campaign last June.

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Barrow reported from Atlanta. Follow Barrow and Swanson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP and https://twitter.com/EL_Swan .