Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Support NHPR with your tax-deductible year-end gift today!

Sanders Wins Wisconsin But Barely Dents Clinton's Delegate Lead


We begin this hour with election results from Wisconsin and what they mean for the presidential race. We'll check in on the Republicans in a few minutes.


But first, in the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders is on a roll. His win last night in Wisconsin let him make up some ground, but he's running out of time to overtake Hillary Clinton. Now, the two camps are trading sharp attacks. NPR's Tamara Keith is following the Democratic race. She's here in the studio. Welcome.


CORNISH: So Bernie Sanders did pretty well last night.

KEITH: Yeah.

CORNISH: Did he do well enough to actually change the race?

KEITH: Well, he did what he had to do. He was expected to win Wisconsin, and he won Wisconsin and by a larger margin than even his campaign thought he would - 13 points. The delegates are awarded proportionally, and they haven't fully been allocated yet. But it looks like he netted about 10 delegates over Hillary Clinton. That means she still has a very large lead in delegates, but what Sanders has is momentum. And if he really wants to upend this race, then he needs to carry that momentum to Wyoming, which has a caucus over the weekend, and then even further, to New York state, which is Clinton's adopted home state and where he grew up.

CORNISH: Right. So on top of hearing who's the more authentic New Yorker, we're probably going to be hearing about who's the better Democrat. Let's listen to what Sanders' campaign manager Jeff Weaver said about Clinton on CNN last night when he was asked about party unity.


JEFF WEAVER: You know, don't destroy the Democratic Party to satisfy the secretary's ambitions to become president of the United States.

CORNISH: All right, Tam, what's this all about?

KEITH: Well, the argument that he's making is that Bernie Sanders is the better general election candidate. He's the one who can energize young voters. And he's saying that if Clinton's the nominee, it would be a low-turnout election, a slog with Donald Trump most likely or Ted Cruz and that it would hurt Democrats. Clinton's campaign and supporters have, for a couple weeks, though, been raising a concern that while Clinton has been raising money for Democrats and the Democratic Party in down ballot races, Sanders has had this record-breaking fundraising - he raised 44 million last month - but it's only been for his own campaign. So when Clinton was asked to respond on CNN to the Weaver comments, this is what she had to say this afternoon.


HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I have been campaigning for Democrats, fundraising for Democrats, recruiting Democrats to run and win for a really long time - I think about 40 years. And Sen. Sanders, by his own admission, has never even been a Democrat. So look, I understand they're getting anxious. I get that. But they need to be thoughtful about what they do say because, at the end of the day, we need a Democratic president to succeed President Obama.

CORNISH: This is probably a good moment for a fact check, right, about Bernie Sanders and whether or not he's a Democrat and whether it matters.

KEITH: Yeah, so Bernie Sanders is running for president as a Democrat. He has caucused with the Democrats in Congress. But he is not registered as a Democrat because Vermont does not have party registration. And he's resisted calling himself a Democrat throughout his career. He's always been independent. And his team has been openly feuding with the Democratic Party throughout this process. Here's the reason that any of that matters - there aren't a lot of open primaries left. In the races that are coming up, most of those races, you actually have to be a Democrat to vote, including in New York state.

CORNISH: So let's get back to how that race is shaping up. What's going on on the ground?

KEITH: Well, it's still two weeks away. A lot can change, but polls currently show Hillary Clinton up about 10 points or so. You know, a couple months ago, she was up by a higher margin. The Clinton campaign is confident that, demographically, the state favors her. But New York has this big New York media market, and Bernie Sanders this week sort of ran into that media market. He did an editorial board interview with The New York Daily News that the Clinton campaign was so happy with they pasted it in whole into a fundraising e-mail. He stumbled on questions about breaking up big banks, Israel, gun control - all things that resonate in New York. Still, his campaign feels confident heading into New York. They feel like he has a real chance because it is a liberal state, because he's been in the trenches fighting on things like the minimum wage, which is an issue there in the state, and also fighting Wall Street.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Tamara Keith. Thanks for coming in.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.