New York voters go to the polls today, Tuesday, April 19, to choose presidential
candidates. This post will be updated throughout the day with news, analysis, exit
polls and results for the Democratic Party contest.
The new conventional wisdom in politics is that endorsements don't really matter
anymore -- just ask former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who had
a lot of them. But that's endorsements from politicians. The official backing of
celebrities might be a whole different thing. So the New York Times has listed
some the highest-profile New York actors, musicians and filmmakers who are
speaking out for one of the Democratic candidates. They are:
Bernie Sanders: Harry Belafonte, singer, Rosario Dawson, actress
Josh Fox, filmmaker, Spike Lee, filmmaker, Michael Stipe, R.E.M. frontman
Hillary Clinton: Lena Dunham, actress and writer, Renee Elise Goldsberry, star
of Broadway hit "Hamilton", Rosie O'Donnell, former co-host of "The View",
Jeffrey Wright, actor
In case you're interested, Clinton has also garnered the support of actors George
Clooney, Robert De Niro and Kerry Washington, and singers Katy Perry,
Beyonce and Ja Rule. Sanders, meanwhile, has won over singers Neil Young and
Miley Cyrus, comedian Sarah Silverman and actors John C. Reilly and Danny
DeVito, among others.
A lot of people support Clinton. Though she has lost seven of the past eight
Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders,
she points out she has scored about two-and-a-half million more votes total than
Yet even though Clinton remains the favorite to secure the Democratic Party's
nomination, her backers feel isolated and under siege -- just like the candidate
herself. Fifteen years after her lightning-rod husband left the White House, she
remains reviled by conservatives -- and now the increasingly combative
progressive movement has a problem with her too. The comedian Bill Maher
summed up the situation in a February essay:
"I mean, she just is such a Charlie Brown figure. I could see the nomination
slipping away from her again. I don't know why everyone just wants to beat up
on her. If you are threatened by Hillary Clinton, you were molested by a
real-estate lady, I used to say. There is no other explanation because she is just
not that threatening. ... I personally don't think she is dishonest. And yet the
hatred for her is just amazing -- the hatred on the right and the abandonment on
the left. She's particularly hard to watch as a candidate. (That laugh.) Yes, the
hard truth is that Hillary Clinton is a terrible campaigner who is living in a
That laugh is memorable, something picked up from a Lon Chaney movie. Yet
Sanders' backers reject the notion that she's simply lousy at retail politics and still
has a pre-social media campaign mindset. They say the problem is the speaking
fees and the Iraq War vote and the willingness to compromise and change her
positions as needed.
And they appear to be onto something there. Clinton's favorability rating is
astonishingly low for a presumptive major-party presidential nominee. She is
viewed unfavorably by about 55 percent of the electorate, according to a recent
Associated Press poll. That puts her unfavorable rating more than 20 percentage
points higher than Barack Obama's and George W. Bush's were at the same point
in their first winning campaigns for the White House, in 2008 and 2000,
"The No. 1 reason that her favorability is so bad is that you have large numbers
of Americans who say they don't trust her," Democratic strategist Brad Bannon
told The Hill. "I could make it sound more complicated than that, but that's really
what it is. Voters see her as the ultimate politician who will do or say anything to
The only good news in the poll for Clinton is that Republican presidential
front-runner Donald Trump has even higher negatives, with a 65-percent
Of course, there's no guarantee Trump will end up as the GOP's standard-bearer.
Republican Party insiders, terrified by the real-estate magnate's unpopularity
among Americans overall, are openly plotting to deny him the nomination. The
same thing ultimately might happen to Clinton at the Democratic National
Convention, Sanders backers insist.
"Going into the convention I think she'll be just short" of the delegates needed to
secure the nomination, Sanders' wife Jane told MSNBC last week.
Could Clinton's superdelegates be swayed at an open convention?
Sanders' message is certainly sexier. His voters are tired of compromise and
playing defense. They want a world turned upside down, a new start, the corrupt
political status quo imploded.
The liberal New York Daily News editorial board, for one, wants them to grow
up. And they're calling on New York Democrats to help ensure that Clinton isn't
"just short" going into the convention.
"On April 19, New York Democrats will have unusual say over the party's
nominee," the paper's editorial endorsement of Clinton stated last week. "They
have in Clinton a superprepared warrior realist. They have in opponent Bernie
Sanders a fantasist who's at passionate war with reality. By choosing Clinton,
Empire State Dems would powerfully signal that the party has gotten real about
achieving long-sought goals."
Fans of the Vermont senator called foul on the New York newspaper, and they've
pushed back hard. Their highest profile and most vocal spokesman this past
week has been Oregon's Jeff Merkley, who became the first U.S. senator to
"Bernie Sanders is boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our
country," Merkley wrote in the New York Times. He cited Sanders' long-time
opposition to both the undemocratic campaign-finance system and trade deals
that have sent many thousands of jobs overseas. Most of all, he celebrated
Sanders' "willingness to fearlessly stand up to the powers that be."
In the end, Merkley argued, it's not about the nuts and bolts of how this
progressive vision will be accomplished, it's about having the courage in
post-"Reagan Revolution" America to stand up and call for a "political revolution."
"People know that we don't just need better policies, we need a wholesale
rethinking of how our economy and our politics work, and for whom they
work," Merkley wrote.
This is a powerful message, especially among younger voters. And it's made an
election even in Clinton's home state perilous for her. She holds a double-digit
lead in Empire State polls, but Sanders has proved time and again to be a strong
For Clinton to avoid a big upset that could prove fatal to her White House hopes,
she certainly could use more 20-somethings voting for her. Sanders has
dominated among Millennials, scoring as much as 80 percent of their votes in
some states. Would all of these young Sanders fans stay home in November if
Clinton is the nominee? Democratic leaders are worried about that, but it's hard to
say what would happen. The stripling Sanders voters might end up turning out
for Clinton. And if they don't, they might be at least partially replaced by young
Clinton voters who so far have been cowed by the Bernie backers' passion.
"This is our time to lay low," twenty-something New Yorker and Clinton
supporter Casey Zuckerman told Time magazine. "We're playing the long game."
Needless to say, the long game will only work for Clinton if she wins New York
in the short term.
|Bernie Sanders tries to overcome the
|Bernie Sanders endorsed by various celebrities