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West Virginia, Nebraska Hold Presidential Primary Contests

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

So even though the focus of the presidential race has shifted to the general election, there are still primaries schedules for several more weeks. Today, Democratic and Republican voters in West Virginia had their say. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the projected winners there. Trump also won in Nebraska where there was a Republican primary today.

To talk more about these contests and the general election, NPR's Domenico Montanaro is with us once again. Hi, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Does this win for Bernie Sanders change anything for him tonight or for Hillary Clinton for that matter?

MONTANARO: Well, it's certainly going to mean that Hillary Clinton's going to have to fight a two-front battle that she wasn't hoping that she was going to have to do. You know, she was hoping perhaps to clinch, cross the magic number of 2,383 delegates perhaps next week - looks like now that's going to wind up being on June 7.

Now, for Bernie Sanders, though - he's going to own May. I mean, he's going to win in Indiana, win in West Virginia. He may very well win next week in Kentucky and Oregon. But he's not going to net enough delegates to change the math very much. After tonight, he's going to need two-thirds of all remaining delegates to win a pledged majority. But that may very well not be the point for Bernie Sanders.

SHAPIRO: Well, what is the point in that case? What's his endgame here?

MONTANARO: (Laughter) Well, the endgame, you know, for Bernie Sanders is - you start to hear him talk a lot more about the message and about how to affect the change within the Democratic Party. They're going to want to have a big imprint on that Democratic Party platform this summer in Philadelphia when that gets written.

And you should note, you know, Hillary Clinton stayed in until June. She did much better than Barack Obama at the end, but Obama only won by 69 pledged delegates - right now, Hillary Clinton up by more than 280.

SHAPIRO: So barring any unexpected events, it looks like Hillary Clinton will face Donald Trump in November. What is the path for each of them when you look at the map in the general election?

MONTANARO: Well, it's pretty fascinating because right now you can put Hillary Clinton at 270 electoral votes going based on history and demography in some of the states that Barack Obama won. She could lose Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina - all these traditional swing states.

As long as she wins Virginia, Nevada, two places that demographically have been trending Democratic - New Hampshire, which the president's won a couple times - Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which have gone Democratic for almost 30 years - but of course, that's a place that Donald Trump is going to want to try to compete as well...

SHAPIRO: And that's even without Clinton winning Florida and Ohio.

MONTANARO: Right.

SHAPIRO: What would the path be for Trump?

MONTANARO: Well, and that's the thing, you know? This - the message of trade, which is something that Bernie Sanders has really hit Hillary Clinton on pretty hard because, you know, her husband, Bill Clinton, had signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA - the problem for Donald Trump is, if he's going to try to compete in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania - again, places that have gone Democratic for 30 years - he has to win in those kinds of places in order to win.

Even picking up a place like Florida, you know, he's going to have to do so with a changing demography where we had in the 1980s about half the electorate - white, working-class. Now that's only about a third, and that presents a major challenge for Donald Trump - steep, uphill climb. But you know, it's very, very early, and we should emphasize that.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's political editor Domenico Montanaro. Thanks, as always, Domenico.

MONTANARO: Hey, thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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