Opinion: New York win comforts Clinton | Opinion | DW | 20.04.2016
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Opinion: New York win comforts Clinton

Hillary Clinton's victory in the New York primary nearly assures she'll be the Democratic presidential nominee, writes DW's Ines Pohl. Everything is still up in the air for the Republicans - despite Donald Trump's win.

Election night only brought one surprise to the New York presidential primaries: a notable sense of relief in Hillary Clinton's team. When American voters started the primary voting process, no one had ever questioned whether the two-term senator would get a clear win in "her state." But this year has shown that nothing can be taken for granted. Not even for the former first lady.

If her rival Bernie Sanders had come within 10 percentage points, the former secretary of state's already blemished image as the Democrats' eventual winner would have shown major cracks. She needed a clear win in the state she calls home. Such a win is especially important to keep up morale among her supporters.

Even before New Yorkers took to the polls, considerably more people had cast ballots for Clinton, but Sanders' series of smaller wins was having an effect. Many of Clinton's supporters appeared tired and frustrated. In private conversations, they admitted that the situation reminded them of the 2008 primaries, when the then-unknown Illinois Senator Barack Obama did what many thought impossible and beat the Clinton political empire. Would self-proclaimed socialist Sanders with his image as a revolutionary and his support among young voters be enough to pull off the same feat?

An energized environment

When the first reliable forecasts rolled in, you could feel the relief in the Sheraton Hotel, where Clinton's supporters celebrated their candidate's win. After watching Sanders' string of victories, there was more energy in the room than had long been the case. Everyone knew New York was the litmus test: if Clinton didn't succeed here, then winning the general election in November would be tough - regardless of who challenged her.

Pohl Ines Kommentarbild App

Ines Pohl reports for DW from the United States

In her victory speech, Clinton expressed her effusive thanks to supporters and, visibly relieved, reveled in the crowd. The many, many women in the room wrapped their arms around her - and more than a few wiped away tears of relief. Hillary Clinton has finally arrived. Thanks to this push from New Yorkers, there's little chance anything will be able to keep her from claiming the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Republicans' existential crisis

There's not much to analyze when it comes to the Republican Party. Even after Donald Trump's clear win, it's still unclear how the GOP will deal with the candidates at its convention. The situation is the same as it's been for weeks: wait and see. What's clear is that Republicans will hold their convention July 18-21 in Cleveland and that delegates will have to show their true colors and choose between accepting the candidate more people voted for or putting forward someone new and possibly drive their party into an existential crisis.

Clinton is aware of this dilemma. After the win in New York, she can turn her focus from rivals in her own party to her general election campaign against a Republican presidential contender. The time has come for that contentious fight to begin.

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