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Trump, Sanders run strongly in Erie, Niagara counties

Donald Trump’s followers were so confident that the real estate mogul would do well here they dubbed Western New York “Trump Country.”

But is it also “Sanders Land?”

The Vermont senator, while losing to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton statewide, ran even with her in Erie County and outpolled her in Niagara County as returns were counted late Tuesday.

Combined, Sanders led by about 1,000 votes out of more than 100,000 votes cast by Democrats in Erie and Niagara. But it was a surprising outcome when considering the former senator from New York twice dispatched her husband to Erie County, spent a day in Buffalo herself and was the far-and-away favorite of the Democratic Party establishment here.

While Clinton won the state with almost 60 percent of the vote against Sanders, she grabbed little more than 50 percent of the vote in Erie County when more than 90 percent of the results were in Tuesday night.

In Niagara County, she had gathered about 46 percent to almost 54 percent for Sanders, who drew 11,000 people to the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena for a rousing speech a week before primary day. About 3,000 had to be turned away because they could not be packed inside.

His local coordinators had hoped the successful rally would translate into more boots on the ground and more excitement for their underdog. Apparently it did.

While the Sanders campaign opened a Buffalo office, on Amherst Street, he appeared to do better in the Erie County suburbs that lie inside the 27th Congressional District, which is represented by Republican Chris Collins. There, Sanders led Clinton with 55 percent of the vote, according to the Erie County Board of Elections.

But Clinton did better with the Erie County voters who cast ballots inside the 26th Congressional District, which includes the City of Buffalo and is represented by Democrat Brian K. Higgins. Those voters went for her, 52 percent to 48 percent.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump did better in Erie and Niagara than in the rest of the Empire State.

Trump gathered about 60 percent of the Republican vote statewide. But after drawing 12,000 to First Niagara Center on the day before primary day, Erie County Republicans casting ballots in the 26th Congressional District gave him about 64 percent of the vote. They gave Ohio Gov. John Kasich 22 percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz 14 percent.

Erie County Republicans voting in the 27th District, where Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump, gave him two out of every three votes, or 67 percent. And in Niagara County, Trump again took about 67 percent of the vote.Cruz, who spent a few hours around Buffalo, ran a consistent third.

News staff reporter Mary Pasciak contributed to this report. email: mspina@buffnews.com