Hillary Clinton rolled to victory Tuesday in New York’s Democratic presidential primary, putting an end to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ insurgent winning streak and giving her a significant boost toward eventually securing the party’s nomination.
With about 98 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton led the Vermont senator, 58 percent to 42 percent.
Clinton, who served as a New York senator from 2001 to 2009, was counting on a victory in her adopted state after Sanders had won seven straight primaries.
“Today, you proved again there’s no place like home,” Clinton told cheering supporters at the Sheraton in midtown Manhattan. “Today, together, we did it again and I am deeply, deeply grateful.”
Of all her primary victories, Clinton said the win in New York was “personal.” She was buoyant in her victory speech, as if the win had lifted a burden from her shoulders.
Clinton even sought to change the frame of the race by reaching out to Sanders’ supporters, saying the two agreed on issues far more than they disagreed.
Sanders skipped primary night in New York and instead campaigned in Pennsylvania. Afterward, he told reporters he was returning to Vermont to “recharge” himself. Still, he insisted he has a shot at the nomination, despite the growing odds.
“We’ve got a shot to victory,” Sanders told The Associated Press. “We have come a very long way in the last 11 months, and we are going to fight this out until the end of the process.”
Clinton came into Tuesday’s contest with a comfortable lead of more than 600 delegates but was looking to stop Sanders’ momentum and begin to mathematically put away the nomination. She was projected to win the bulk of the 291 Democratic delegates at stake in New York.
“New York has sealed the deal for her,” declared Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democratic Chairman who had organized county chairs around the state for Clinton. “I think it’s a great victory for Hillary Clinton. I think it demonstrates she is the candidate that will get the nomination.”
Though not calling for Sanders to drop out, Jacobs said: “The tone needs to change and we have to begin the process of uniting the party.”
Appearing on MSNBC, Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the Vermonter still had a mathematical chance and suggested his side would try to flip some “superdelegates” previously pledged to Clinton.
Late Tuesday, Sanders emailed supporters to reaffirm he’s staying in the race.
“Five important states vote one week from tonight, with more delegates at stake than Hillary Clinton led by coming into tonight,” Sanders wrote. “And if we do well next Tuesday, we remain in a position to take the pledged delegate lead when almost 700 delegates are up for grabs on June 7,” referring to the California primary.
With most votes counted, Clinton ran up big margins in New York City and Long Island, as well as the lower Hudson Valley and the Rochester and Syracuse areas. Sanders was leading virtually everywhere else upstate.
At the Clinton celebration in Manhattan, a sea of supporters waved American flags and signs that read “Fighting for Us.” Some said they were drawn to Clinton because of her experience in government from her time as first lady and U.S. Secretary of State — rather than emphasizing the possibility of electing the first female president.
Martin Lockman, 23, of Brooklyn, said Clinton would do more to tackle poverty in rural America.
“Bernie Sanders is talking a lot about the issues that Hillary Clinton has actually been working on for the past 40 years,” said Lockman, who said he grew up in rural West Virginia.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revved up the crowd before Clinton appeared, shouting: “New York, you did something wonderful tonight!”
Sanders had performed better in states with “open” primaries, which allow those not registered with a political party, as well as members of minor parties, to vote in them.
In New York, only enrolled party members can vote. New York fit the profile of states where Clinton has won during this campaign: a big state, a closed primary, significant minority population.
With Laura Figueroa and David M. Schwartz