Looking ahead — Clinton versus Trump in Erie County and New York State

The dust is still settling from Super Tuesday, but the results from the eleven presidential primaries and caucuses certainly point to the final lineup for president in November. By the end of this month it may be all but over. Hillary Clinton will likely be the Democratic candidate and Donald Trump the Republican.

Bernie Sanders is committed to running as long as the Clinton delegate count has not exceeded 2,383. That could be well into June. He has a ton of money (including the $42 million raised just in February) and thousands of committed followers. But the delegate math will not work for him. Clinton’s likely victories in a cavalcade of states will widen the delegate spread. In the end he will look for some influence on the party platform.

For Trump, things will be more complicated. His overwhelming wins on Super Tuesday helped pad his delegate lead. He is, at least at the moment, in the polling lead over John Kasich in Ohio and Marco Rubio in Florida, and a win against either or both of them on March 15th would likely eliminate them. Rubio’s win in Minnesota cannot hide the fact that he mostly performed poorly in the other ten states. Second place finishes for Kasich in Vermont and Massachusetts are nothing to get excited about.

Ted Cruz’s wins in Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska were somewhat overshadowed by his failures in the other southern states, but for what it is worth, he has more to brag about now than does Rubio.

Ben Carson is finally heading for the door.

Trump will have a very large lead in delegates by the end of the month. His problem, however, is that what still passes as the party establishment will continue to fight as a resistance movement. Think of it like the French resistance in World War II. (They eventually wound up on the winning side, but they had lots of help).

Talk about the possibility of a brokered convention will continue as the resistance forces challenge Trump. There is, however, one basic problem with the idea of a brokered convention – there are no brokers in the Republican Party to do the brokering. Those who might try – Reince Priebus, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan for example – have no juice to knock heads and rearrange the primary results.

New York State

The presidential primary in New York is on April 19th. By then, it will probably be all over but the shouting. So it is only a bit early to start speculating about how things will come out between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in New York in November.

Fred Dicker in a New York Post article this week reported on un-sourced polls suggesting that Trump can beat Clinton in New York. Considering the author and the unspecified info about who conducted the polls; what the questions were; how the samples were pulled, or even if they were pulled; and what the margins of error were, there is no need to get too excited about that information.

A conventional view of this year’s election would lead to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton will trounce Trump in New York. This view would be supported by the following facts:

  • There 3,059,130 more registered Democrats than Republicans in New York State.
  • Barack Obama carried the state by 1,995,310 votes in 2012. A total of 7,135,322 voters came out.
  • Hillary Clinton was re-elected senator in 2006, a non-presidential year, by 1,616,239 votes.
  • In looking for a parallel to the Trump campaign in recent New York history, we can consider Carl Paladino’s race for governor as the Republican candidate in 2010. Andrew Cuomo defeated Paladino by 1,363,019 votes. A total of 4,769,581 votes were cast in the state that year, or one-third less than the number of voters in the state in 2012.

The 2016 election for president is shaping up like nothing we have ever seen before. So throw out all the history and the conventional wisdom. This will be a very unique election.

A whole lot of things need to play out between now and November. In the end the overwhelming blueness of the state, combined with strong negative reactions to what comes out of Trump’s mouth and iPhone, should lead to a strong victory for Clinton in New York. But I wouldn’t bet the ranch on that just yet.

Erie County

Paralleling the state as a whole, there are many reasons to think that Hillary Clinton will do very well in Erie County this year. Among the reasons:

  • There are 129,145 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the County.
  • Barack Obama carried the county by 67,681 in 2012.
  • Hillary Clinton carried the county by 81,203 in her 2006 re-election victory.


In Carl Paladino’s gubernatorial campaign against Andrew Cuomo in 2010, Paladino carried the county by 58,363 votes. Paladino is leading Trump’s effort around here, and considering their parallel styles and positions on issues, it is reasonable to think that Trump will draw well here.

There are mitigating factors, however, that will likely affect returns in 2016.

  • A total of 307,762 people voted in Erie County in the 2010 gubernatorial election. In the presidential vote in 2012, 417,435 votes were cast, an increase of 36 percent. The turnout in the City of Buffalo was 32,572 votes higher in 2012 than 2010, an increase of 51 percent in the presidential election.
  • The intensity of the current presidential election, even at this very early stage, is amazingly high. Charges are flying all over the place. Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip bullying style invites lots of push back. This is going to be a very long election campaign.

Down ballot races

Aside from the presumed direct race between Trump and Clinton, there will also be a side-show that will be interesting to watch – how the local down-ballot races will tie-in or not tie-in to their respective party presidential candidates.

On the congressional level, Chris Collins has already come out for Trump and Brian Higgins supports Clinton. If they have opponents this year (petitions go out next week for congressional elections), it is likely that a Dem against Collins will stand with Clinton, but what about a Rep against Higgins? Given the general demographics and political inclinations of that district, would a Republican running against Higgins support mass deportations of undocumented aliens, or banning Muslims, or saying that POW’s are not war heroes, or not treating all people with respect, etc., etc.?

Farther down the ballot, on the state legislative level, the same issues may come up. The Democrats, again, will likely be comfortable with Clinton. But what about the Republican candidates for the Legislature and those hot button Trump positions? The only local state legislator who has openly identified with Trump thus far is Assemblyman David DiPietro.

There will be at least one local state legislative race, the one in the 60th Senate District, where a Republican primary will occur. It is hard to imagine Chris Jacobs straying from a discussion of state issues, but his opponent, Kevin Stocker, has in previous elections shown a tendency to get very aggressive. Will Stocker adopt the Trump stuff?

There will only be one State Supreme Court seat on the Western New York ballot this year, and of course judicial candidates cannot wade into political questions. But the race for that seat will be affected by the type of voter turnout, generated primarily by the presidential candidates, which will occur in the area.

So the political questions in Erie County this year will be: will local candidates rise above the ugly campaigning that has marked the presidential election? Will we see mini versions of the campaign food fights that have defined the Republican primaries thus far? Buy more popcorn, the show is about to start.