The New York Republican primary may be awarding the most delegates of all the presidential contests on Tuesday, but Manhattan voters largely stayed home. Their state traditionally votes Democratic in the general election, and the GOP nomination has already been all but declared for Mitt Romney.
The New York Republican Party sent out a press release Monday night urging New Yorkers to "get out and vote this year" and Romney pleaded in an email to New Yorkers "I need your vote today," but in context, this sounds more perfunctory than hopeful. Most of the 95 delegates from the Empire State -- as well as delegates from Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Delaware -- will likely go to the former Massachusetts governor, now that Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race.
"I think Mitt has won fair and square," former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican who formerly criticized the GOP hopeful for having no core beliefs, said on "Fox and Friends" Monday.
Despite New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox's excited predictions earlier this month that the New York primary would play a "decisive role" in the election, he later acknowledged there would be a low turnout and asked Republicans to hit the polls to at least "show that they are interested in what is happening," according to the New York Times. Because it is a closed primary, only registered Republicans can vote.
The few New Yorkers who voted in Manhattan's Upper East Side, where at least 20 percent of voters are registered Republicans, appeared to be very politically active people. The Park East Synagogue had less than 30 voters walk in by 1 p.m., after opening at 6 in the morning. Poll workers at Christ Church a few blocks away said only four people had trickled in by the afternoon.
"It makes the day go long. We're working 16-hour days. We didn't get our first voter until after 7, and this is a busy polling site," said Park East Synagogue Board of Elections Coordinator Carmen Porugues, adding that she expected more voters to come in after work. Synagogue director Benny Rogosnitzky said he was expecting about 100 to 115 Republicans to come in and cast their vote by the time polls close at 9 p.m.
Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and even Rick Santorum are all on the ballot, but the latter three candidates have little chance of scoring many, if any, delegates from Empire State. Even one elderly voter who declared President Barack Obama a "Communist" and "Muslim" who is "destroying our country" said he voted for the relatively moderate frontrunner because "he's the strongest we have." He declined to give his name because he said his vote was personal.
New York Republicans in general, however, tend to be more fiscally than socially conservative on the issues than those in the South or Midwest, making Romney's comparatively moderate stances more appealing to voters.
A woman at the Park East Synagogue who identified herself as a "senior" who is pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage said she voted for Romney because "he's not as extreme," and she liked his stance on the economy. She said she and her husband know Gingrich personally but "just don't like him as a person."
Even Gingrich's staunchest supporters have acknowledged there is little hope for him. Former gubernatorial candidate and Gingrich surrogate Carl Paladino admitted last week that "miracles have happened, but Romney is for sure ahead," according to WNYC.
The New York primary may help Romney reach the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, but once again the state will be shifted to the background come November. New York hasn't gone Republican in the general election since 1984 for Ronald Reagan, who won everything but Minnesota and the District of Columbia.
"Far from basking in a starring role, New York is relegated once again to the bleachers," wrote New York Times columnist Clyde Haberman.
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