New York’s upcoming GOP presidential primary, on April 24, is looking like one of the biggest blowouts of the primary season. In a new Quinnipiac poll released this morning — the only poll of the race taken in over a month — Mitt Romney leads Rick Santorum by 33 points, with whatshisface, with the ego, and soandso, the libertarian guy, lagging far behind in single digits.
Still, had this race been scheduled for, say, a month ago, it wouldn’t have been totally useless: New York awards a whopping 95 delegates — the third most of any state, behind only Texas and California — and because of its proportional allocation of said massive amount of delegates, Santorum would still have a reason to fight for votes here. But it wasn’t scheduled for a month ago. It’s scheduled for April 24, and the race is effectively already over, regardless of whether Santorum is ready to acknowledge it.
New York’s presidential primaries haven’t always been so irrelevant. Between 1996 and 2004, they were held in early March, and in 2008, early February. But last summer, the legislature passed, and Governor Cuomo signed, a bill moving the primary all the way back to April 24. There were various reasons for the change: Democrats wanted to hold the primary as late as possible, because the DNC awards states that hold late primaries with more delegates at the convention. It would allow New York to align its primary with other Northeast states like Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. And pushing the primary back on the calendar would make it easier for the state to comply with the federal MOVE Act, which requires ballots to be mailed to troops overseas at least 45 days before Election Day. Republicans and Democrats compromised on April 24.
Still, some top state Republicans suspected/hoped that New York’s primary would still be relevant on April 24. “It appears New York will be in play,” Tony Casale, the chief of staff for the Republican State Committee, told the Times Union in January, during the magical but short-lived Gingrich surge. But unless Romney is revealed as the true brains behind the Madoff Ponzi scheme, or is caught on a hot mike complaining that “everyone makes such a big deal about 9/11,” it does not appear that way anymore.