Empire State leftists enthusiastic, divided

It is hard to know whether it was the robocalls, the blizzards of leaflets, the sheer excitement of a historic race or the euphoria of the Super Bowl. But more than a third of the state’s enrolled Democrats voted Tuesday, the highest percentage in a New York presidential primary in 20 years and more than twice the proportion that cast ballots in 2004.

The turnout was heaviest along the West Side of Manhattan, from Harlem to Greenwich Village, where Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Barack Obama seemed to battle to a draw.

Turnout was also very heavy in neighborhoods in central and western Brooklyn, where Mr. Obama was victorious.

But over all, Mrs. Clinton won the city with about 55 percent of the vote; she took the state, 57 percent to 40 percent.

Reflecting constituents’ passions and polarization, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama each carried 5 of the 10 Assembly districts with the highest turnouts.

The 10 districts with the smallest turnout — a number of them in southern Brooklyn — were mostly won by Mrs. Clinton. And she ran strongest, getting more than 78 percent, in Woodhaven and Richmond Hills, Queens, where only 28 percent of the eligible Democrats voted.

Mr. Obama was strongest in a district in central Brooklyn, where 40 percent of the Democrats turned out, and he won with 67 percent.

Exit polls hinted that Mrs. Clinton benefited from a home-state advantage.

Nationally, Mr. Obama did well among male voters and black voters in Tuesday’s primaries; but Mrs. Clinton cut significantly into his advantage among those groups in New York. She also did especially well with Hispanic New Yorkers, receiving about three-fourths of their votes.

But the exit polls also suggested challenges Mrs. Clinton will face as she campaigns around the country. She fared as well among women in New Jersey and Connecticut as she did in New York. But among men in general, and among black and Hispanic voters, she scored less well in New Jersey and Connecticut than in New York, the exit polls by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International showed.

“I believe six months ago she had an expectation of winning 40 to 50 percent of the black vote,” said Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, the Brooklyn Democratic chairman, who had endorsed Mrs. Clinton. “Now, a more realistic number is 20 or 25 percent, and that presents a problem in the states that have a substantial black vote.”

Mr. Lopez also estimated that in Brooklyn, which Mrs. Clinton barely carried, the results were skewed because record numbers of young, white would-be voters, whom he presumed were Obama supporters, were ineligible because they had registered as independents or were enrolled in the Working Families Party or the Green Party.

Mr. Obama took only one of the state’s 62 counties, Tompkins in the Finger Lakes, home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, where nearly 50 percent of eligible Democrats voted. Mrs. Clinton sealed her New York victory by capitalizing on solid margins elsewhere upstate.

Clinton supporters took pains to explain that while they never took New York for granted, with nearly two dozen other nominating contests on the same day, they had scarce resources to invest here.

Similarly, given that New York is Mrs. Clinton’s home state, Mr. Obama barely campaigned here, although he spent a good deal more time fund-raising here.

Statewide, the Republican turnout on Tuesday was about 20 percent.

Republican Party leaders originally loyal to Rudolph W. Giuliani demonstrated their nimbleness and effectiveness by delivering the state to Senator John McCain, if only by a bare majority, just a week after Mr. Giuliani ended his presidential candidacy and endorsed Mr. McCain.

Democratic officeholders, most of whom embraced Mrs. Clinton before Mr. Obama began gaining ground, were apparently less persuasive. In Brooklyn, Mr. Obama carried the Congressional districts represented by Edolphus Towns and Yvette D. Clark, both of whom had endorsed Mrs. Clinton.

In Manhattan, Representative Charles B. Rangel was an original Clinton supporter, while his wife, Alma, endorsed Mr. Obama last week. Mrs. Clinton won his district, though not by enough to keep Mr. Obama from getting three of its six convention delegates.

Black elected officials who embraced Mr. Obama generally fared better at delivering the votes. In central Brooklyn, he defeated Mrs. Clinton by more than two to one in a district where he was endorsed by the local assemblyman, Hakeem Jeffries.

Mr. Obama carried other predominantly black districts in Harlem, Brooklyn and southeast Queens by about 60 percent.

In the largely Hispanic South Bronx, Mrs. Clinton polled 73 percent.

She did nearly as well in mostly Jewish neighborhoods, including Forest Hills, Queens, and Borough Park and Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.

She got more than 1 in 3 votes from black voters in New York and about 7 in 10 from Hispanic voters, also more than in any other state.

Over all in the state, Mrs. Clinton won 139 delegates on Tuesday, and Mr. Obama won 93. The state also has 49 so-called super delegates who will go to the Democratic convention unaffiliated.

Whatever the implications of the vote for November, analysts were already parsing the returns for clues to the 2009 mayoral race.

One said Mrs. Clinton’s showing bodes well for Christine C. Quinn, the City Council Speaker, if she runs against Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., who is black. (Missing from that calculation is the probable candidacy of Representative Anthony D. Weiner.)

“One way of looking at this is that Obama is getting the ‘reform’ side of the party cleavage, while Clinton is getting the more ‘regular’ side, though this is not clear-cut,” said John H. Mollenkopf, executive director of the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

“The Obama pattern looks a lot like the Dinkins vote, while the Clinton pattern looks a lot like the Bloomberg vote.”


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