Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will need a landslide victory in New York’s April 19 primary to overcome former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s superdelegate lead there.
New York has 291 delegates, 44 of which are superdelegates — party elites free to vote for whomever they wish without regard to how citizens vote. When you remove the superdelegates, that leaves 247 pledged delegates up for grabs depending on the vote. New York Democrats, like most state parties, allocate delegates on a proportional basis determined by the percentage of the vote a candidate receives. That quirk means Sanders, even if he wins the state Clinton represented in the U.S. Senate, will leave the state with fewer delegates.
It’s not impossible for Sanders to gain on Clinton. It’s just very unlikely.
Sanders has been gaining on Clinton in the polls, and may well pull off a victory on Election Day in the state of his birth. But if that victory is not a landslide — by a 60 to 40 percent margin — Sanders will not make up the deficit he already faces due to the superdelegate advantage Clinton currently enjoys.
Of New York’s 44 superdelegates, 40 of them have publicly stated their support for Clinton. They include all members of the state’s congressional delegation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and former President Bill Clinton.
The remaining superdelegates are uncommitted. That means Sanders has the support of zero of the state’s superdelegates.
Without winning 60 percent of the vote in the New York primary, securing him 146 pledged delegates to Clinton’s 101, and locking up the remaining uncommitted superdelegates, Sanders will leave the Empire State with fewer convention votes in his pocket than Clinton, primary victory or not.