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NY: Clinton's Home-Field Advantage

By Spencer Hsu
Even without a well-known native son, New York is poised to honor hometown favorites on Tuesday, throwing a tickertape parade in Manhattan for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and awarding home-state Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) the bulk of 281 Democratic delegates in her race with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Among Republicans, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has surged ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in a winner-take-all contest for 101 GOP delegates, gaining strength from the withdrawal and subsequent endorsement of former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani last week.

Giuliani's abandonment of his White House bid deflated some of the passion of today's contest, although turnout is expected to remain strong among Democrats.

McCain's rise to a 2-to-1 edge over Romney also has kept current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) offstage, as the billionaire business man and former Republican continues to reprise the Hamlet-on-the-Hudson role that former governor Mario Cuomo briefly made his own in 1992, before keeping out of that year's Democratic race.

For now, Obama's challenge to Clinton and New York's Democratic political establishment is providing the drama. Obama has made inroads in the district-by-district scrap with Clinton for 232 Democratic delegates, who will be selected based on the candidates' share of the vote in each of 29 House districts.

Clinton has already locked up most of the rest, unpledged "super delegates" who include party leaders such as her herself, her husband, former president Bill Clinton, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and the state's 24 other Democratic members of Congress, who have all endorsed her candidacy, along with African-American political leaders and most of the state's major newspapers.

In recent days, however, polls show Obama has roughly halved Clinton's lead in the polls to about 15 percentage points, gaining among African-American voters and liberal voters in the city that Caroline Kennedy calls home, in between her cross-country campaign stops for Obama.

Still, with the outcome seemingly fixed, all of the candidates have left stumping in New York mostly to surrogates, and only the two Democratic rivals have dared to dabble lightly in the state's costliest-in-the-nation airwaves. McCain has advertised on cable, although he is expected to attend an 8 a.m. victory rally tomorrow in New York City.

Clinton, meanwhile, plans to watch returns tonight from New York City, and is set to spend election eve as a guest on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, and hosting a town hall-style meeting in New York on the Hallmark Channel at 9 p.m.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 4, 2008; 8:01 PM ET
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