Ten days ago, Sanders held an outdoor rally at a park in the hardscrabble Mott Haven section of the South Bronx. About eighteen thousand people showed up. The crowd was so large that it couldn’t entirely fit into the allotted space. Now Sanders is campaigning full-time in New York, seeking to eat into Clinton’s lead, and drawing on a small army of volunteers.
“Normally when you run a campaign, you have a lot of people working for you—you have to drag them places, and you have to pay people to do things,” Bill Lipton, the New York director of the progressive Working Families Party, which is supporting Sanders, told me. “This is a different type of campaign. There is a movement out there for Bernie Sanders. He has the type of energy we’ve rarely seen in New York politics, where thousands of people come out for a rally in response to an e-mail. Many of them leave with sheets of paper telling them how to get involved, and the next day they are knocking on doors.”
The mobilization isn’t restricted to New York City, Lipton said. He cited support for Sanders among environmental activists in the Hudson Valley, and said that an organizational meeting in Buffalo—where Sanders is scheduled to speak on Monday—that was called at short notice still attracted hundreds of volunteers. State officials have reported an unprecedented surge in last-minute registrations by new voters, which may also owe to the Sanders effect. “I think turnout will be high,” Kenneth Sherrill, an emeritus professor of political science at the City College of New York, whose memories of state politics go back to the nineteen-sixties, told me. “A lot of people who haven’t voted in primaries before are going to be voting, and that introduces a random factor.”
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