Background: New York actually matters a great deal on the Democratic side (as opposed to the Republican one, where it is mostly an opportunity for the current front-runner to staunch the bleeding). There are 247 delegates at stake in a proportional, closed (more on that in a minute) primary; polling shows Hillary Clinton consistently ahead of Bernie Sanders by double digits. Home field advantage to Clinton, given that she used to be a Senator there; and the general expectation is that she should romp tonight. Generally speaking: Clinton is considered to be dominant among NYC voters, and Sanders is stuck playing catch-up upstate. I’m personally going to be surprised if Clinton loses. Or if it takes more than ten minutes to call the race, frankly.
Aside from the perennial super-delegate problem for Sanders – being behind by a couple hundred of delegates is one, somewhat minor thing; having a deficit of over four hundred super-delegates is something entirely else – the Vermont Democrat is going to have one very serious problem facing him tonight: New York’s unique restrictions on party-switching. It’s extremely likely that many voters who identify as Democrats and who typically vote as Democrats found out today that technically they’re Working Families Party or something, and that they can’t vote for Bernie Sanders. And if they wanted to change that, they should have made the arrangements last October.
The truth of the matter is, even assuming that the pollsters got it wrong this time – not implausible; remember the Illinois results? – and Sanders wins tonight he’s unlikely to, say, sweep. And by ‘sweep’ I mean ‘get 200 delegates more than Clinton did.’ If that happened? Sure, the super-delegates will start taking second looks at the Socialist. …And then they’ll remember the ‘Socialist’ part, and probably pipe down again. The bottom line here is that the Democratic party establishment doesn’t WANT Bernie Sanders to be the nominee, and they have an executive override over the process.
All of this personally distresses my mother, by the way. Which is why I’m not telling her – because she’s, you know, my mom. But I’ll say it here; Sanders is not there to win. But it’s in the interests of the Democratic party to make it look like he might win for as long as possible.