© 2020 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wisconsin Voters Go To The Polls In State's Primaries

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Voters in Wisconsin have been at the polls all day making their voices heard in the presidential primary contests. While the results could shift the direction of the Republican and Democratic races, nothing will be decided tonight. In fact, most of the candidates have already moved on to other states coming up in the primary calendar. We're going to check in on both sides now. NPR's Tamara Keith is in Brooklyn, N.Y., at a Hillary Clinton campaign event. Hi, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hey.

SHAPIRO: And NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Wisconsin where Ted Cruz is hoping to score a big win tonight. Hi, Sarah.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Sarah, let's start with you. Cruz has been holding a lead in the polls over Trump. Now, does it look like he could end up the winner tonight?

MCCAMMON: That is definitely what he's hoping for. Of course, he is behind Trump in the overall delegate count. But this last week, you know, Ari, has felt kind of like Iowa with Ted Cruz on the ground making lots of stops here in Wisconsin, lots of retail stops as well as rallies. And you know, Trump, too, has been on the ground quite a bit. He made at least three stops yesterday. Usually, you know, he tends to hold one big rally a day.

So there, you know, definitely is competition on here in Wisconsin. And Wisconsin does have a lot of Christian conservatives, which is kind of Cruz's wheelhouse, and Cruz has really the entire Republican establishment behind him now. He's been campaigning alongside Governor Scott Walker. And you know, the GOP electorate, too, here in Wisconsin isn't quite as blue-collar as some other places. There are more suburban Republicans, especially here in the Milwaukee area where I am. That's harder for Trump.

SHAPIRO: How much could the results in Wisconsin tonight affect the shape of the Republican race?

MCCAMMON: It really depends on, you know, how big of an upset it is. If Cruz comes out with the sweep, it cleans up all the delegates here, and that would make it a lot harder for Trump to win the nomination outright and increase the chances of a contested convention this summer. It would also give Cruz a lot of momentum and more credibility to the argument he's been making for a long time that he's the only one who can beat Trump.

But it's not a winner-take-all state, so the results could be split to some degree. And you know, if Trump were to come out ahead, that would upset expectations and give him momentum going back to states like New York and Pennsylvania where he's looking better.

SHAPIRO: Let's shift to the Democrats and Tamara Keith, who - you're no longer in Wisconsin. You're in New York City. What does that say about where the race stands right now?

KEITH: Well, it certainly says something about Hillary Clinton's focus. She held a town hall here at Medgar Evers College with this incredibly diverse audience, mostly women. It was focused on women's issues. And she spent virtually no time talking about her Democratic opponent Bernie Sanders, never mentioned him by name. However, she saved some of her best lines for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. So there's a sense that she has moved on.

She's trying to shore up her support here in her adopted home state of New York. Wisconsin obviously votes tonight. Bernie Sanders is favored. And if she loses in Wisconsin, that's not the end of the world for her in terms of delegates, but New York, her home state, her adopted home state - she needs to win that state. It would be devastating if she were to lose it, and it would be a huge boost for Bernie Sanders if he could win it, which is why she's here tonight.

SHAPIRO: Bernie Sanders has been talking a lot about momentum. He's hoping that a win in Wisconsin might propel his recent string of wins. What is his focus right now?

KEITH: Well, he's in Wyoming tonight. And Wyoming actually votes before New York. There's a caucus on Saturday. Demographically, Wyoming is a strong state for Sanders. He's expected to do well because it's a caucus, because it is - because the people who are in Wyoming who are Democrats would tend to be more liberal.

And as you said, he's on a run. He's won 6 of the last 7 states, and he - really, his only path to the Democratic nomination - it's a narrow path, and that path requires him to win and win big both in states like Wyoming and in states like New York.

SHAPIRO: And briefly, Sarah, are the Republicans looking ahead to the upcoming states as well?

MCCAMMON: For sure. John Kasich is already onto New York. Trump will be there tomorrow with his first event after Wisconsin. Ted Cruz, though, celebrating here in Wisconsin tonight where he's hoping to win. New York gets more challenging for him, and so does Pennsylvania.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Sarah McCammon in Milwaukee. Thanks very much.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

SHAPIRO: And NPR's Tamara Keith in Brooklyn, who's at a town hall hosted by Hillary Clinton - thanks, Tam.

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