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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Exit Poll Reveals Factors Behind Sanders Wisconsin Win

Sen. Bernie Sanders beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary with 56.5 percent of the vote to his adversary’s 43.1 percent, his sixth straight primary victory. “The preliminary Wisconsin results gave 45 pledged delegates to Mr. Sanders and 31 to Mrs. Clinton, who maintains a lead of roughly 250 delegates,” notes Amy Chozick in the New York Times. “Mr. Sanders would need an estimated 56 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to overtake Mrs. Clinton.”
Sanders also outpolled Republican Ted Cruz, who won the GOP primary, while Democratic runner-up Clinton ourtpolled Republican runner-up Trump. Sanders got about 36 thousand more votes than did Cruz and Clinton got 47 thousand more votes than did Trump. However, Cruz, Trump and Kasich received over 54 thousand votes more than did Sanders and Clinton together.
AP’s Chad Day and Emily Swanson share some results from AP/Edison Research exit polling in WI:

On the Democratic side, voters chose Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who they saw as the more exciting, inspiring and honest candidate, according to early results of exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Research…But even then, more voters view former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the candidate most likely to beat Trump, who has been the Republican front-runner throughout the primaries.
…Nearly 60 percent say Sanders inspires them more about the future of the country…Democratic voters were more likely to describe Sanders than Clinton as honest. About nine in 10 say so of Sanders, while about 6 in 10 say so of Clinton… But more than half also say Clinton is the candidate best suited to beat Trump. Three-quarters say Clinton has realistic policies, more than the two-thirds who say that of Sanders.

Swanson and Day report that Sanders ran ads emphasizing job losses linked to trade agreements during former President Bill Clinton’s administration. Further,

Democratic voters in Wisconsin are divided on the effect of trade on unemployment, but among those who think trade takes jobs, 6 in 10 supported Sanders…About 4 in 10 Democratic voters say trade with other countries takes away jobs in this country, while 4 in 10 see trade as beneficial, exit polls show. Only about 1 in 10 sees trade as having no effect on jobs in the United States.

As for demographics,

Young voters supported Sanders by an overwhelming margin. More than 6 in 10 men voted for Sanders, while women split about evenly between the two candidates…Six in 10 white voters went for Sanders, while 7 in 10 black voters voted for Clinton. Self-described Democrats split about evenly between the two candidates, while about 7 in 10 independents voted for Sanders.

Regarding the upcomming Democratic primaries in delegate-rich New York (April 19th) and Pennsylvania (April 26th), Chozick writes, “…Wisconsin, with a population that is 88 percent white, does not reflect the larger and more diverse populations of New York and Pennsylvania, more comfortable terrain for Mrs. Clinton.” Chozick adds that, In 2008, “Barack Obama defeated Mrs. Clinton in Wisconsin by 17 percentage points.” In that race, however, Obama had the support of younger voters, who are now favoring Sanders, as well as voters of color.
As a former U.S. Senator from NY, Clinton will likely have an edge in that state, although Sanders has some New York roots, and trade is a significant issue in western parts of NY. Sanders may find stronger than expected support in PA, were job losses from trade deals are a continuing concern.

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