By Amie Parnes - 03/27/16 02:45 PM EDT
Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMcConnell: Trump needs to 'catch up fast' on fundraising Rubio: I hope I can trust whoever wins with the nuclear codes O'Malley: Trump is a 'racist' and a 'bigot' MORE has made it clear that he thinks he can win New York in a general election match-up against Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonPerez mum on VP speculation McConnell: Trump needs to 'catch up fast' on fundraising Rubio: I hope I can trust whoever wins with the nuclear codes MORE, the former senator from the Empire State.
Trump, the billionaire businessman who resides in New York City and has a number of properties dotting the streets of the Big Apple, has repeatedly said he thinks the traditional blue state is very much in play.
For better or worse, the Republican presidential front-runner is associated with Gotham. Even Republican rival Ted CruzTed CruzO'Malley gives Trump a nickname: 'Chicken Donald' Va. GOP delegate files lawsuit over bound convention votes Our most toxic export: American politick MORE has tried to define Trump as a Yankee with “New York values,” while this week labeling him a “New York bully.”
Democrats insist there’s no way the state will go red in 2016.
They say Trump’s outsized presence in New York — which includes his business deals, relationships and branding on buildings like the famed Trump Tower — will not be enough to deliver the liberal state to Republicans.
“In his mind that translates to winning New York,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in an interview. “In actuality, I think nothing can be farther from the truth.”
Engel, who has endorsed Clinton, said the former New York senator remains enormously popular in the state she served for eight years in the Senate.
Clinton, he added, appeals to a broader electorate, including in the more conservative areas upstate.
“She had a very stellar record as a senator,” Engel said. “She was well-liked, reasonable, she was moderate.”
New York has 29 Electoral College votes and is traditionally assumed to be an easy win for Democrats in the presidential race. The state hasn’t gone for a Republican since Ronald Reagan's reelection bid in 1984, and President Obama won it in a landslide victory by nearly 30 points in 2012.
But Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financier and establishment Republican donor, said Democrats shouldn’t take the state for granted.
“You can’t say he has no chance of winning New York,” Scaramucci told The Hill in a telephone interview this week. “You can’t underestimate his appeal in the blue-collar community … and he has a heat-seeking laser to find out your personal weaknesses. Whatever you were worried about in middle school, as a kid, and that you’ve carried on into adulthood, he knows what it is, and he’ll bring it out.”
Wayne Root, a longtime radio personality and businessman who hails from New York, wrote in a column in the conservative media outlet The Blaze late last year that Trump can win the state.
“And if he does, Hillary’s goose is cooked,” Root said. “If the GOP wins New York, Democrats have no electoral path to the White House.”
Root said Trump would appeal to working class New Yorkers as well as minorities across New York City’s five boroughs.
“Trump is a New York hero in those working-class boroughs,” Root said.
But political observers say they find Trump pulling off a victory hard to believe.
They point to recent polls that show Clinton pummeling Trump in New York state.
One poll out earlier this month by the Siena Research Institute showed that Clinton would trounce Trump there, 57 percent to 34 percent.
“It will be difficult,” said Adam Seth Levine, an assistant professor of political science at Cornell University. “As of now we don’t have much evidence that Trump is overwhelmingly changing this calculus in New York.”
“Given how well-known these two candidates are, we don’t have a ton of reasons to expect these numbers to change a lot,” Levine added. “Even if Trump managed to swing the 9 percent of undecided folks in this poll to his side, that still wouldn’t be enough to win.”
Levine said voters are increasingly unwilling to cross party lines, “and this pattern has only accelerated in this era of negative partisanship in which, if nothing else, many people are voting against the opposing party rather than voting than voting in favor of their own party.”
In an interview, Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, added, “I would be tempted to bet my house that Clinton would beat Trump in a general election.”
While Trump may very well campaign on the idea that he is the “anti-politician, and that he is plan spoken and unvarnished,” Reeher continued, “it’s just the intense blueness of the state” that is hard to overcome.
“She would be a strong candidate here statewide because of the positions that she's taken,” he said, adding that the Democratic primary has moved Clinton further to the left and “makes her even more appealing in a state like New York.”
And he summed up that even though both candidates can make “plausible claims” that they each hail from the state, “New Yorkers don’t get hung up on that sort of thing.”
Jonathan Swan contributed to this report.