Polls: Underdogs falling short

Candidates face a tricky balance, managing hopes and expectations for Tuesday’s New York primary.

Bernie Sanders’ predictions of victory help fire up his crowds, but polls in the past week, including a CBS News Battleground Tracker survey out Sunday, showed Hillary Clinton hanging on to a lead of at least 10 points.

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Sanders’ claim to momentum from recent contests is at stake. So is his need to catch up in delegates. He has drawn close to even with Clinton lately in national polling among Democrats. But the near-term schedule — including Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut on April 26 — favors the front-runner.

The Ted Cruz campaign set the bar lower, saying if Trump falls short of an outright majority in his home state, he should quit. But nearly all polls show Trump at or north of 50%. What suspense remains is whether Cruz or John Kasich can pick off a handful of delegates, and who comes in a distant second.

Remarkably, the latest poll shows a stark lack of favorability for the "front runners" Trump and  Clinton. Only Sanders and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who trail, enjoy a net positive rating from registered voters, say findings of the NBC/Wall St. Journal survey taken in recent days.

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New York’s 27 primaries

The numbers you’ll hear the most Wednesday morning are the percentages of the popular vote, but the contests that will matter more for the delegate hauls are the balloting in each New York congressional district.

It’s like 27 “mini primaries,” Newsday’s Yancey Roy writes. Delegates are divvied up not just based on who won but on hitting certain vote-percentage thresholds.

That’s especially critical in the three-way Republican race, where Trump has hope of taking all 95 delegates up for grabs.

Candidates and issues

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Read Newsday’s guide for voters on where Trump, Cruz, Kasich, Clinton and Sanders stand on major issues.

Trump’s no LIRR fan

In a Staten Island speech, Trump said the Long Island Rail Road compares unfavorably to rail systems in China.

“They have railroads like you’ve never seen. We have the old Long Island Rail Road — chug, chug, chug, chug,” he said. “It’s like we’re a Third World country, folks. They have trains that go 250 miles an hour.” Newsday’s David M. Schwartz covered Trump.

Sanders pushes housing agenda

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The affordable housing issue hasn’t gotten much attention in the national discussion among 2016 candidates, but Sanders unveiled a plan Sunday in Brooklyn, where he spoke to more than 20,000 people in Prospect Park.

“We’re going to rebuild our inner cities in this country rather than spend billions on wars we should’ve never, ever gotten into,” Sanders said.

His plan, Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports, includes more federal spending to repair aging public housing and expanded programs for first-time homebuyers and those facing foreclosure.

The sprawling system run by New York City's Housing Authority, for one, has been consigned in recent years to the political shadows, an observer notes. 

Clinton: No middle-class tax hike

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Clinton, on Staten Island, pledged she would not raise taxes on middle-income people to fund federal programs.

“I will not raise taxes on the middle-class — at all,” she vowed to a crowd of 1,000 at the Snug Harbor cultural center. “There’s plenty of money in rich people’s pockets.”

In a borough that often elects Republicans, Clinton also pledged to work across partisan lines, Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.

Trump quiets riots talk

Trump walked back, somewhat, his prediction from a month ago that “you’d have riots” if he is denied the Republican nomination at the party’s convention in Cleveland in July.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Trump said, “I hope it doesn’t involve violence, and I don’t think it will. But I will say this, it’s a rigged system, it’s a crooked system.”

Contested convention no sure thing

While the chances of a contested GOP convention have grown as a result of Trump’s setbacks in delegate battles, he still could find a way to a first-ballot victory.

An Associated Press analysis finds Trump’s path “narrow and perilous,” but still “plausible.” However, he’ll have to do better than he did this past weekend in five states where delegates were chosen by local and statewide party organizations.

Gabby Giffords touts Clinton

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a gunshot victim, joined gun control activists in Dix Hills on Sunday to rally support for Clinton.

She appeared at Five Towns College with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), along with families who lost members to gun violence. Newsday’s Scott Eidler reports.

What else is happening: