Sanders blows by clinton in wisconsin – politico

Bernie Sanders scored a decisive victory in the Wisconsin Democratic primary Tuesday night, racking up his seventh victory in eight contests against Hillary Clinton as the race barrels toward a critical showdown in New York.

Sanders’ victory kicked off a critical two-week stretch for the Vermont senator, who is trying to show he can become a genuine threat to topple the front-runner in the home stretch of the presidential primary and not merely dog Clinton until the July convention in Philadelphia.

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Sanders relished the win at a rally in Laramie, Wyoming, ahead of the state’s Saturday caucuses, telling supporters he was written off as a “fringe candidacy” when he launched his campaign 11 months ago.

“With our victory tonight in Wisconsin, we have now won seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries. And we have won almost all of them with overwhelming landslide numbers,” he said. “What momentum is about is that at a time in contemporary politics when every major candidate has a super PAC, we have said no to the super PACs, said no to the billionaires who fund those super PACs.

With about 40 percent of the votes counted, Sanders led Clinton 54 percent to 46 percent. The Associated Press called the race shortly after polls closed.

Clinton congratulated Sanders in a tweet but did not speak publicly after the race was called.

“Congrats to @BernieSanders on winning Wisconsin. To all the voters and volunteers who poured your hearts into this campaign: Forward!” she wrote.

Fresh off a string of blowout wins across the West, Wisconsin was largely seen as tailor-made for Sanders. After Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses, the race shifts to New York, a delegate-rich state where both campaigns are playing to win.

The triumph in Wisconsin is likely to give the Brooklyn-born candidate another burst of momentum heading into the April 19 primary in New York, where he has a chance to reset the race if he can upset Clinton in the state she represented for eight years in the Senate.

Don’t tell Clinton, Sanders joked, but “I believe we have a chance to win New York and a lot of delegates in that state.”

Clinton’s campaign had been aggressively lowering expectations in Wisconsin. Allies of the Democratic front-runner insisted a defeat would not materially damage Clinton given her strong lead on Sanders (she’s ahead by roughly 230 delegates, or 600 including superdelegates).

Wisconsin awards its 86 pledged delegates on a proportional basis, which ensures neither candidate will net a large delegate haul.

“Wisconsin is a state that favors him. It is much less diverse than most of the states we compete in in Democratic primaries. It’s got a lower population of African-Americans, a very small population of Latinos,” Clinton’s chief pollster and strategist Joel Benenson told MSNBC on Monday, setting the bar for expectations Tuesday night.

Clinton’s campaign, Benenson remarked, has “done very well in building a diverse coalition, which is why we’ve won far more primary elections than Sen. Sanders has and compiled a bigger net delegate lead in those primaries by a lot, than he has.”

Sanders held a 5-point advantage over Clinton in a Fox Business poll conducted March 28-30 and has spent a significant amount of time and energy traversing Wisconsin in search of votes the final week of the campaign.

Both candidates held events in Wisconsin over the weekend, but only Sanders stuck around Monday, while Clinton, after two events in the state on Saturday, headed to New York . Former President Bill Clinton campaigned on her behalf in Wisconsin on Friday.

Sanders hammered away at Hillary Clinton’s past support for free-trade deals, including at a stop in Janesville on Monday. At that gathering, he decried the moving of the oldest General Motors plant in the country to Mexico eight years ago, resulting in the loss of jobs for 2,800 workers. Sanders has also brought up her Wall Street ties on multiple occasions.

Tensions between the two camps ratcheted up with Sanders’ criticism.

While campaigning in her adopted home state of New York last Thursday, Clinton admonished an activist who criticized her on donations to her campaign from oil and gas lobbyists. “I do not have — I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies. I am so sick — I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me,” an irritated Clinton said while wagging her finger. “I’m sick of it.”

A top Sanders aide responded that Clinton couldn’t handle the truth. “He’s talking about her record. He’s talking about her practices. She obviously doesn’t like it, but that doesn’t make it lying because you don’t like it,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver told MSNBC.

There was also squabbling between the camps over the timing of a debate before the New York primary. The campaigns on Monday ultimately settled on April 14, but Sanders was forced to reschedule a rally planned for that evening.