Frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton rolled to easy wins in New York state’s presidential primaries, recapturing lost campaign momentum and taking big steps toward capturing their respective parties’ nominations.
Trump’s huge victory in his home state pushed him closer to capturing the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination and avoiding a contested national convention in July.
Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton’s dominating double-digit win in New York broke a winning streak by Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and made it nearly impossible for him to overtake her commanding lead in the delegates needed to win the nomination.
The victories for Trump and Clinton in one of the biggest state nominating contests so far set up both front-runners for strong performances next Tuesday, when they are expected to do well in five other North-eastern state primaries.
Mrs Clinton’s win in New York followed some of the most heated personal exchanges of her campaign against Sanders, a Vermont senator who had won seven of the last eight state-by-state nominating contests.
The New York victory will expand Clinton’s lead of 244 pledged delegates over Sanders, and make it nearly impossible for him to overcome the deficit and capture the 2,383 convention delegates needed for the nomination under Democratic rules that allocate delegates proportionally based on each state’s result.
“The race for the Democratic nomination is in the home stretch, and victory is in sight,” Mrs Clinton said, noting that she had gained more than 10 million votes and won in every region of the country.
While Mrs Clinton reached out to Mr Sanders supporters, she repeated language she has used recently to criticise her opponent for offering vague policy ideas without a concrete explanation of how he would achieve them.
“In the bright lights of New York we have seen it’s not enough to diagnose problems, you have to explain how you actually solve them,” she said.
Mr Trump had more than 60 per cent of the Republican vote with about 40 per cent counted, easily beating rivals Texan senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich, putting him in position to possibly win most or all of the state’s 95 delegates.
Mr Trump could win all of the delegates if his vote total is above 50 per cent statewide and in each of the state’s congressional districts.
“We don’t have much of a race anymore based on what I’m seeing on television,” Mr Trump told cheering supporters at a victory party at his Trump Tower in Manhattan.
“We are really, really rocking.”
Mr Trump entered the New York contest with 756 delegates, while Cruz had 559 and Kasich had 144, according to an Associated Press count.
The count includes endorsements from several delegates who are free to support the candidate of their choice.
Mr Trump said his New York win would make it almost mathematically impossible for Mr Cruz to win the Republican nomination on the first ballot at the party’s national convention in July.
If Mr Trump does not secure enough delegates needed to win the nomination on the first ballot at the July 18-21 conclave in Cleveland, delegates would be allowed to switch to other candidates.
Mr Trump remains unpopular with the Republican leaders and activists who select and serve as delegates, while Mr Cruz has invested time and money courting them.
Some establishment Republicans have been alienated by Mr Trump’s more incendiary proposals, such as building a wall along the border with Mexico and slapping a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. (ABC News)