There’s no place like home.
And no home quite like New York, for New Yorkers. We love winners. We love them particularly when they are larger than life. And we especially adore those winners when they are our own.
So perhaps it should have come as no surprise that the state’s voters Tuesday bestowed a pair of resounding primary victories on two front-running New Yorkers, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, results that could change the arc of their presidential campaigns.
Trump, who was expected to beat Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich in the Republican primary, posted his most impressive win of 2016. The billionaire businessman won in New York City, in the suburbs, in rural areas, and across all demographics. He might have been helped by the fact that many New Yorkers are inured to bombast, whether from Trump or the state’s many other outsized personalities. But exit polling and pre-election surveys showed they responded deeply to his ability to voice their concerns and understand their frustrations: about an economy that has left them behind, a federal government that no longer seems to work for them, and immigrants here illegally they perceive as threats. And New York’s voters made it clear that they saw in Trump someone who is an outsider and who can bring about change.
New York now looks like the real Trump pivot — a big home-state victory that could lead to a final and decisive phase of the Republican primary season.
Clinton’s margin of victory in the Democratic primary was more unexpected. The goodwill she built up in eight years as a senator and all the relationships and connections she formed here propelled her to a decisive win over a scolding Sen. Bernie Sanders. In the final days of the campaign, the energy that defines New York served to energize her and her candidacy. Clinton’s victory makes it that much harder for Sanders to make a realistic case for himself. But it likely won’t convince Sanders, despite his predictions of victory here, to unify around her. He should return to his promise of campaigning on ideas, not personalities.
We’re tempted to say the real winners in this 2016 campaign have been you, the voters. You were treated in New York, as elsewhere, to a pair of vigorous and energized races. Instead of being primary afterthoughts, you were courted. Intensely. In these past two weeks, you saw the fiercest Democratic debate yet, complaints from Trump that the GOP primary system is rigged, and a ton of ethnic food eaten in pursuit of delegates. And you saw more presidential TV ads in a fortnight than you usually see in a decade.
As a result, a whole lot of people went to the polls. Turnout was strong. That’s good. But we have such a low bar here. It still was a minority of registered voters who cast ballots.
And now this fascinating fight for America moves on. Other states will have a chance to weigh in, and they will become the temporary center of the American political universe. But when history looks back on 2016, it might well be that when the spotlight was on New York, New York showed who would be left standing on the stage at the end of this crazy race. — The editorial board