A Handful of NYC Republicans Could Decide the Nominee (but Not the Ones You Think)
Republican primary rules and the incredible closeness of this year’s race mean the nomination could come down to a few Republican voters in heavily Democratic districts.
The Quirks of Delegate Allocation
In New York, Democrats divide delegates proportionally by statewide vote, but Republicans give 14 to the statewide winner (if anyone gets over 50%, otherwise it’s proportional for everyone that clears 20%) and three to the winner of each of the state’s 27 Congressional district (if anyone gets over 50%, otherwise 1st place gets two and 2nd place gets one).
New York City covers 11 districts (the 5th through the 15th), giving it 33 Republican delegates. That’s more than Colorado (30) and nearly as much as Wisconsin (42) or Missouri (40).
New York City’s Republicans
In general, NYC Republicans come in two varieties: working class whites (concentrated in Staten Island and some neighborhoods of Queens) and rich people (pricey neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn, like the Upper East Side and Cobble Hill).
That leaves some areas almost entirely Republican-free.
In 2014, Republicans didn’t even bother running a candidate in eight of the eleven races, winning Staten Island’s 11th and badly losing in the 7th (Queens-Brooklyn, 82.6% to 8.3%) and 12th (East Side of Manhattan, 77.2% to 19.4%).
Check out this fine-grained map of party registration:
Those light pink areas are Republican deserts. In particular, the 5th (Queens, bottom right of the map), the 13th (northern Manhattan, represented by Democrat Charlie Rangel since 1971) and the 15th (only district entirely in the Bronx, 61% Latino and 3% white) are almost entirely Democratic.
New York is a closed primary state; only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary. And all Congressional districts pick three delegates, no matter how many registered Republicans they have.
This Year it Matters
The New York primary rarely matters, but this year is different.
Donald Trump’s final total will be very close to a majority of delegates. If he’s over the threshold, he’s the nominee, winning on the first ballot at the Republican convention.
But if he falls short, even by a single delegate, it’s a contested convention. And Ted Cruz has done a much better job getting his supporters selected as delegates.
If a first ballot victory means Trump, and a contested convention means Cruz (or long-shots like John Kasich or Paul Ryan), then the nomination could come down to, say, 17 Latino Republicans in the Bronx.
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