Voters and 2016 candidates get in an Empire State of mind

  • Sen. Charles Schumer, showing his support for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a rally held at the Apollo Theater in New York, March 30, 2016.
  • Supporters of Hillary Clinton listen to the candidate at a rally held at the Apollo Theater in New York, March 30, 2016.
  • Hillary Clinton addresses the crowd at the famed Apollo Theater in New York, March 30, 2016.
  • 42 Street subway station in Manhattan.
  • Jessie Xaviar, a dog walker in Central Park says it’s the animals that are most important to him this election. “We have to be kind to animals and care for them.”
  • Tourists and performers fill the streets in Times Square.
  • Private First Class Marine (retired) Daniel Damascus Kimery says the most important thing to him in this election is “class warfare. We’re living in a banana republic and that has to change. I want equality for all people.”
  • A tourist poses for a photograph in Times Square near the Disney store, the largest in North America.
  • Of this election, John Arias says "None of the issues mean anything to me. It's about getting right with Jesus and obeying the gospel."
  • A cab driver seen through the window of his taxi with the lights of Times Square reflections.
  • Thomas Whitten, a homeless man by Port Authority bus terminal says the most important issue for him right now is “fairness in housing. When you apply for housing there is a six month to a year waiting list. I’m on the street, how can they find me when something opens up?”
  • A woman working as a Minnie Mouse character in Times Square (and asked to not use her real name) says the most pressing issue for her in this election is ” immigration. I am really scared of what Donald Trump says and what it will mean if he is president.”
  • Tchotchke shop near Times Square.
  • Tourists take a selfie in Times Square.
  • Reflection of passengers through a bus window near Grand Central Station in Manhattan.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Rev. Al Sharpton at the 25th Anniversary National Action Network Convention (NAN) held at Sheraton Hotel in New York, April 13, 2016.
  • New York Congressman Charlie Rangel (right) at a rally supporting Hillary Clinton.
  • The Empire State Building at 34th Street.
  • A food vendor near Madison Square Garden.
  • An out of service telephone booth in lower Manhattan.
  • Things for sale at the Hell's Kitchen flea market.
  • Bernie Sanders addresses an excited crowd during a rally at Washington Square Park on April 13, 2016. An estimated 27,000 New Yorkers came out to hear him speak at the iconic park.
  • A supporter of Bernie Sanders at a rally at Washington Square. An estimated 27,000 New Yorkers came out to hear him speak at the iconic park.
  • Supporters of Bernie Sanders gather at a rally at Washington Square. An estimated 27,000 New Yorkers came out to hear him speak at the iconic park.
  • Bernie Sanders addresses the crowd during a rally at Washington Square Park on April 13, 2016. An estimated 27,000 New Yorkers came out to hear him speak at the iconic park.
  • Supporters of Bernie Sanders gather at a rally at Washington Square. 
  • Oscar Salazar at a Bernie Sanders rally in Washington Square Park thinks "we need to get the money out of politics. Special interests give money to every politician and then expect to sway them to their special interests."
  • Construction worker Bernie Nazo in lower Manhattan says the number one issue for him this election is " democracy. It's the most important thing for us and for the world. We don't need any dictators."
  • A memorial to the victims of the WTC attack on September 11 in downtown Manhattan.
  • A memorial to the victims of the WTC attack on September 11 in downtown Manhattan.
  • Benjamin Kim, a newsstand vendor in lower Manhattan says the most pressing issue for him right now is the "traffic. It's so bad it's hard to be in business with it alway like this."
  • People relax in the sun near the New York Stock Exchange building in lower Manhattan.
  • A statue of George Washington reflected in the lens of a tourist by the New York Stock Exchange building on Broad Street in lower Manhattan.
  • Hirshel Morozow (pictured on the right) says the most important issue for him is  "peace in the world. Peace in the Mideast. Peace for all people."
  • When asked what was the most important issue for him during this election, Frank Quiles, a disabled veteran in lower Manhattan says, "I don't know if I'm going to vote. I served my country for six years so I did my part. I would like to see tax equality and vets get their due."
  • Lower Manhattan.
  • Tourists on a open air bus touring lower Manhattan.
  • Dwayne Brown in lower Manhattan says, “I watched the [Democratic] debate on Thursday and I have to say I don’t have a candidate anymore. It was so bad. They’re all beholden to the powers that be. Any issue I care about, they are influenced by the special interests.”
  • A view of One Word Trade Center and lower Manhattan from the Staten Island ferry.
  • A view of the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry.
  • Anti-Trump demonstrators outside of the Hilton Garden Inn on April 17, 2016, where Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump holds a press conference in Staten Island.
  • Jessica Smith and her husband and son, both named George, says “foreign policy. Our country is in shambles and we need an economic and foreign policy that makes America better.”
  • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a press conference for the Richmond Country GOP in Staten Island.
  • A view of the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO by the East River.
  • Children play in the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO by the East River with a view of Manhattan.
  • Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders at a rally in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. He drew record crowds of more than 28,300 people just two days before the New York primary.
  • Two days before the New York primary, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on April 17, 2016. More than 28,300 New Yorkers came out to show their support.
  • Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders at a rally in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on April 17, 2016. More than 28,300 New Yorkers came out to show their support.
  • The media at a Bernie Sanders rally in Prospect Park, Brooklyn on April 17, 2016. More than 28,300 New Yorkers came out to show their support.
  • Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders at a rally in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on April 17, 2016. More than 28,300 New Yorkers came out to show their support.
  • Ricky Obama at a rally for Bernie Sanders in Coney Island thinks we should “close all prisons. We have to stop the prison economy. I’ve been running for mayor since 1992 and haven’t gotten a single vote but I have to keep trying. Things have to change.”
  • Rich Tuero says he in most concerned with "peace. Not so much hate. I want peace and equality."
  • Samantha Echevarria during a rally in support of Bernie Sanders says, “We have too much racism in America. The mass incarceration of blacks in America is a result of this. Police brutality is a result of this. There are more blacks in prison because of this.”
  • Ronny Wasserstrom of Playdate Puppets believes the crucial issue this election season is "transparency. There's corruption at every level of government. I've seen it trickle down to the local level. I want an honest government that works for me."
  • Queens borough along the 7 subway line in Queens.
  • Street scene on Main Street in Queens,  a major street that extends from Queens Boulevard in Briarwood to Northern Boulevard in Flushing.
  • Yahya Seifullah with his family in Queens feels the most important issue this election season is "healing. There's been a lot of racial divide. We need a leader to bring the people back together. "
  • Street scene on Main Street in Queens,  a major street that extends from Queens Boulevard in Briarwood to Northern Boulevard in Flushing.
  • Shafi Ahmed says the most important issue for him is "immigration. They have to fix the system and deal with the people who are here illegally. They don't pay taxes and just use the services. It's unfair to everyone else."
  • George Davidson-Dennis with his mother Michelle Davidson says the thing he cares about most right now is the “environment. When I walk around, leaving school the smell of pollution is everywhere. We need to clean up our city for our future.”
  • Street scene on Main Street in Queens,  a major street that extends from Queens Boulevard in Briarwood to Northern Boulevard in Flushing.
  • Wensley Bynoe says the most pressing issue for him this election is "immigration policy. I have lived all over the world and I think that everyone should have a path to citizenship when they come to this country."
  • Local food vendor in Queens.
  • Nikhil Sharma (on left) says what concerns him most is that "we need a path to legalization for undocumented people. A path to a future for people."
  • Iris from Queens (in the foreground) says the thing she cares about most is the "environment. We need to go forward with clean energy, sustainable energy and keeping Manhattan afloat."
  • Kathy Kaufman says the most important issue for her is that "we need to follow Jesus. I believe he offers life and truth."
  • Charles Jackson Smart believes “togetherness is what we need. Getting the people united to get things done. In 1972, I was a pimp committing crime and my mom told me to get right with Jesus and I prayed and turned my life around. We need to do that as a country.”
  • A woman looks at the work of Wilfredo Felicianort at an opening of the artist’s work at the WALLWORKS gallery in the South Bronx.
  • A mural supporting Bernie Sanders in The Bronx.

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NEW YORK - The candidates descended on the Empire State this week to rally support, take in a show, meet with voters, tour housing projects, join striking workers, and fight for what could be the most important battleground of the primary season so far. Ted Cruz made an attempt to get in touch with New York values, while Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton felt right at home and Bernie Sanders took his revolution to Wall Street.

Mark Peterson was on the ground for it all, catching the moments that define the 2016 election and asking New York voters, “What is the number one issue for you in this election?”

These photographs were shot on assignment by photographer Mark Peterson for MSNBC Photography as part of his on-going body of work “Political Theater” which examines the landscape of the American political system.

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