Does Donald Trump – the Republican presidential candidate, not the real estate tycoon and reality TV star – have what it takes to paint his hometown red in November?
New York hasn’t gone for a Republican in a presidential election since Ronald Reagan more than three decades ago. While the numbers are daunting – registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about 2-1 – Trump’s supporters are optimistic he can make history this year.
In April, Trump won 60.4 percent of the votesin the state’s Republican primary. In New York City, he won more than half of the votes in four out of five counties — losing to John Kasich in Manhattan.
Despite recent controversies — including his comments about the Mexican heritage of the judgein theTrump University fraud cases — The New York Times recently reported that Trump believes he can capture the 29 electoral votes of the state where he grew up and took over the family business.
An average ofrecent polls showsDemocratic candidate Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead over Trump in New York, 54.8 percent to 34 percent.
David Birdsell, dean of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs, isn’t as optimistic as Trump that he can make up that much ground in the next five months.
Although Trump may gain support in areas of upstate New York, Birdsell said he doesn’t see him carrying the five boroughs or parts of Long Island
“This town knows Donald Trump better than any other locality in the United States,” Birdsell said of New York City. “We’ve had to live cheek by jowl with [him].”
Birdsell said some New York voters will be impressed by Trump’s lifestyle and by his accomplishments, but the majority – especially in New York City, where the population is diverse ethnically and economically – will likely go for Clinton.
Former U.S. Rep. Robert Turner, Queens GOP chairman, disagrees, saying if any Republican has a chance in New York, it’s Trump.
Turner is one of 10 Republican delegates from the borough of Queens who are pledged to vote for Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. He called Trump’s performance in the party’s primaries “a very impressive showing.”
“People are reacting negatively to … the economy, defense policies, Obamacare, social programs, etcetera, that we think we’ve moved too far left,” Turner said. “Trump, symbolically, is the guy who is going to fix that.
“I say symbolically because there is not enough meat on the bone yet, we need policies and programs that are designed to put us back on track.”
According to Turner, what Trump needs to do to win his home state is put forth his set of policies and programs on various issues which will then get people to “switch sides.”
“With a good upstate turnout and a credible performance in New York City, he can carry New York State, so there is some expectation that New York will be in play for the first time in years,” Turner said.