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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Democratic presidential hopeful, greets people while walking around midtown Manhattan on the day of New York's primary, April 19, 2016. Clinton and Trump are heavily favored to win the state's primaries.

Sam Hodgson/The New York Times

Early Tuesday, Nicole Press walked into a high school in Harlem and cast her vote in the New York primary.

"I'm not going to lie. I cried a little bit," the 32-year-old stage manager said. She unzipped her black sweatshirt to reveal what was underneath: several campaign buttons for Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, Brooklyn native, proud socialist and stubborn obstacle to Hillary Clinton's march to the Democratic nomination.

"I am exhausted by the way things are in this country and I want change," Ms. Press, who was born and raised in New York, said. For the first time in her life, she decided to volunteer for a political candidate, founding a grassroots group called Harlem for Bernie.

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"I'm with him all the way until Bernie says he's out, or until he gets the nomination, ideally," she said. "As long as Bernie asks for our support, he's got mine."

Although Mr. Sanders is trailing Ms. Clinton in the polls for Tuesday's primary and in the overall delegate count, his predicament hasn't dented the enthusiasm of his supporters here. Mr. Sanders has held enormous rallies in New York – one in Brooklyn drew a record 28,000 people – while people like Ms. Press have taken his message to the streets.

They've been effective – maybe even a little too effective. "Everywhere I turn is Bernie, Bernie, Bernie," said Tanyshia Phillip, 33, a Harlem native who says Mr. Sanders's supporters have inquired if she has registered to vote or if she would like a campaign flyer in three separate Manhattan neighbourhoods. "It's 'No, thank you, no, thank you, no, thank you.' "

At the nearby intersection of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue, there was a table manned by fans of Mr. Sanders who handed out buttons and information on polling places. On the ground, they had written colourful messages in chalk: Join the revolution. Vote April 19. Black Lives Matter.

Adding to the effort were a group of field technicians for Verizon, who are currently mounting a strike against the telecommunications giant – a fight Mr. Sanders has endorsed. "Bernie has compassion for the working man," said Dean Johnson, 49, who lives in the Bronx. "The rich have taken from us and taken from us."

"We're not asking for anything, we just want to keep what we already have," said his colleague Glenn McLaughlin, 42. "We're the ones who build this company, who install it, who maintain it."

So what happens if Mr. Sanders loses the nomination to Ms. Clinton? Mr. McLaughlin responded that he would sit out the presidential election. Mr. Johnson said he hadn't decided yet what he would do in that situation. Another colleague, Malcolm Hobson, 25, proposed a different solution: he would write in Mr. Sanders on the presidential ballot.

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Mr. Johnson laughed. "For us, it's Bernie or bust."

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