Sanders extends winning streak with victory in Wisconsin
Last Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I–VT) won the Democratic primary in Wisconsin, with 56.6 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 43.1 percent. Wisconsin follows a string of Sanders victories, but will this hot streak be enough to power through to the presidential nomination?
From the beginning of the race, Sanders has challenged Clinton in an uphill battle for the Democrat nomination. In the recent primaries, however, things have began to look brighter for the Vermont senator, with victories in the past six states: Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and now Wisconsin.
However, as a group, these states are relatively small, are relatively white, and had open primaries. This means independent voters and not just registered Democrats could vote. In addition, five of the six were low-turnout primaries. These characteristics put a damper on the momentum that the wins represent.
Because the states were smaller, Sanders is still behind in delegates. Sanders has generally won states with higher proportions of whites and lost states with more people of color, a pattern that held in this last stretch (Hawaii being an exception, not the rule). The independent voters who attend Democratic primaries have overwhelmingly supported Sanders over Clinton.
In Wisconsin, the trends continued as Clinton and Sanders were backed by their usual demographics. According to CNN exit polls, voters who were young, white, or independent heavily favored Sanders, whereas Clinton won in voters over 45 years old and people of color.
In a good showing by Sanders, however, women and registered Democrats both split evenly between the candidates. Past allegations that Sanders is only supported by “Bernie Bros” don’t hold up, although a higher percentage of men did support Sanders. The even split among registered Democrats also shows that Sanders is making ground among the party faithful, which had also tended to be more supportive of Clinton in the past.
Despite losing Wisconsin, and several states before it, Clinton still is in a position of power with her lead over Sanders. She congratulated the senator on his win, while looking forward to the remaining states which are more likely to support her.
In Wyoming, Sanders won with 55.7 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 44.3 percent, with both candidates receiving seven delegates. The next primary takes place in New York on April 19. As Sanders’ birthplace and Clinton’s adopted home, the state will be a hard-fought battle.
Its 291 delegates make it immensely important for both candidates, and its diverse demographic makeup challenges the Sanders’ campaign to gain more support among non-white voters. Another hurdle to Sanders is New York’s status as a closed primary, meaning only registered Democrats will be able to vote. Sanders will have to rely on registered Democrats only to see him through.
While the Wisconsin primary was a victory for Sanders, he still has a way to go to before catching up with Clinton. The race is still open for either candidate to take, and Sanders’ recent wins help his campaign but aren’t necessarily a sign of upcoming dominance. Similarly, while the run of losses for Clinton is a setback, she is still holding on to her lead. The Democratic primaries will likely go all the way to the end, as both candidates hope for better results in the future.