Feel the spurn!
Brooklynites rejected hometown boy Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vermont) in favor of establishment choice Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election, with around 60 percent of borough Democrats opting for the former New York senator — despite the Midwood-born pol heavily canvassing Kings County over the past two weeks, successfully demanding a high-profile debate on his native turf, and drawing almost 30,000 people to Prospect Park on Sunday.
The primary itself was plagued by bungled enrollments, dysfunctional polling sites, and the revelation that 126,000 names on the Brooklyn rolls were quietly purged last year, and Sanders supporters believe the problems damaged the self-professed socialist’s numbers.
“Our phones and messages were going crazy with people who didn’t find their names at the polls and had voted Democrat in the past,” said Bay Ridge activist and Sanders volunteer Linda Sarsour, one of many surrogates, pols, and supporters who gathered at a Park Slope bar to watch the results roll in. “I feel like many of the ones that were turned away would have voted for Bernie Sanders.”
But most claimed the biggest problem in translating Sanders’ local hype into votes was New York’s rigid primary system, in which only those who had registered as a Democrat by October last year — before many had heard of the septuagenarian senator — could cast a ballot.
“All of these new voters that Bernie Sanders has turned on, all of these people who are just catching the fire of the Sanders campaign, were excluded,” said Fort Greene filmmaker and Sanders surrogate Josh Fox, who claimed the local Democratic establishment has deliberately “rigged” the system that way to keep insurgent candidates like Sanders out.
But one local Clinton fan said he thought the results were an accurate reflection of the borough’s support for his candidate, a two-term senator who beat President Obama here in the 2008 primary.
“When you don’t win, you want to look for reasons,” said Carroll Gardens resident Mike Racioppo, noting that he did just that when John Kerry lost in 2004. “[Clinton] has a strong record here, good ties, and there was a lot of important institutional support behind her … To me, it was not surprising there was very strong turnout and support.”
Sanders did win some neighborhoods — his strongest support came in Greenpoint, where he ultimately scored around 64 percent of the vote.
He also did particularly well in the Southern Brooklyn nabes of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, which Sarsour attributes to strong support amongst local immigrants who she claimed the Clinton campaign ignored.
“The areas where Sanders did well in Bay Ridge are very highly concentrated immigrant communities,” said Sarsour, who heads the Arab-American Association of New York. “These are discounted communities.”
Clinton did best in predominantly black neighborhoods, including East Flatbush, Canarsie, Brownsville, and East New York, and also dominated tony Brooklyn Heights, where her campaign headquarters is based.
Meanwhile, in the Republican race, Donald Trump — the only candidate who didn’t bother to step foot in Brooklyn while on the campaign trail — nevertheless came up trumps in the borough, sweeping Southern Brooklyn.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich picked up a handful of Brownstone nabes while Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) won in areas boasting large Orthodox Jewish populations — Borough Park, Crown Heights, and the Hasidic part of Williamsburg.
Clinton and Trump also won in the rest of New York state, both securing around 60 percent of their respective voters.