News networks called the state for Trump right as polls closed at 9 p.m. ET, and for Clinton about 40 minutes later. Trump was walloping his rivals John Kasich and Ted Cruz, and Clinton held a double-digit lead over Bernie Sanders.
“Today you proved once again there is no place like home,” Clinton told supporters gathered at the Sheraton in New York City.
“New Yorkers, you have always had my back, and I have always had yours,” she added, as an electrified crowd cheered her decisive victory.
She said that the race was in the “home stretch, and victory is in sight.”
Clinton supporters saw her victory as a decisive moment, as attention will turn to Sanders and whether he has only a scant chance of securing the nomination.
Not too far away, Trump entered the Trump Tower to the tune of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York.”
“We don’t have much of a race anymore,” Trump said. “Based on what I am seeing on television, Senator Cruz is just about mathematically eliminated.” He was referring to his chief rival Ted Cruz, notably calling him “Senator” as opposed to a nickname he has given him, “Lyin Ted.”
Every inch of the marble floor in the lobby was covered with journalists and cameras, expecting him to enter on the building’s long escalator, just as he did when he announced his presidential bid in June. But it was too clogged with people. Among those in the crowd was Carl Icahn and country singer Kenny Lee.
“It means something to stand by someone in tough times and not just jump ship,” said Omarosa, a Trump supporter who was on the first season of “The Apprentice” and later on “Celebrity Apprentice.” “That’s why I’m here.”
“We have some stats where we have to do some heavy lifting to do before we get to Cleveland,” she said, referring to the GOP convention in July.
Out front, there was a surprisingly small crowd gathered on Fifth Avenue, with a heavy police and Secret Service presence and no signs of protesters.
Given the polls, there was little doubt that Trump would win the state — the question was by how much. If he gets more than 50% of the vote, has a much better chance of capturing the bulk of the state’s 95 delegates. That may be essential if he is to secure a majority of the delegates by the end of primary season on June 7, when California is the biggest prize.
Trump was projected to meet that 50% threshold, with Kasich coming in second and Cruz in third.
Trump’s loss in Wisconsin was followed by a series of state party gatherings in Colorado and Wyoming where rival Cruz swept the collection of delegates. Trump has suggested that system is “rigged” against him, but he has been hiring additional campaign staff who have experience in the delegate race.
Clinton, meanwhile, had lost eight of the last nine contests, and Sanders has narrowed the gap in national polls. Their race has become increasingly bitter, with a debate in Brooklyn last week in which moderator Wolf Blitzer had to call a halt to both candidates shouting over one another. Sanders’ campaign predicted he would win the state, and were energized by huge turnout at rallies, including 28,000 at Prospect Park on Sunday.
But the size of Clinton’s victory in New York exceeded expectations. There were 247 delegates at stake, awarded proportionately.
At her victory rally, Clinton made a gesture to Sanders’ supporters, saying that “there is much more that unites us than divides us.”
Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki that he doubted whether either candidate will have a majority of pledged delegates by the end of primary season, and that they still planned “at this time” to try to win over so-called “super-delegates” up to the Democratic convention in July. Those “super-delegates” are party officials, elected officials and other prominent figures who have largely lined up for Clinton but who can change their allegiance.
The New York race drew huge attention, in part because it was somewhat unusual for the state to be a significant factor in a primary race and that Manhattan is the center of the media universe. On Tuesday, the Empire State Building was lit up in candidate’s colors when a winner was declared.
Shortly after 9 p.m., it turned to red, for Trump, and less than an hour later to blue for Clinton.