By Robert A. Vella
The Democratic and Republican party races for president tightened somewhat yesterday with Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz winning double-digit victories in the Wisconsin primary election over their front-running opponents Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively. While the delegate math still favors the front-runners, the Wisconsin results are certain to complicate and extend the nomination process for both political parties.
Progressive candidate Sanders soundly defeated establishment candidate Clinton by 14 points, 57% to 43%. It’s probably no coincidence that Wisconsin was the birthplace of the Progressive Movement over a century ago, but back then it started in the Republican Party (which bears little resemblance to the modern GOP).
Ultra-conservative ideologue, and evangelical Christian favorite, Ted Cruz won by a similar margin (13 points) 48% to 35% over the irascible nationalist Donald Trump (whose candidacy is deeply resented by the GOP establishment). Third-tier candidate John Kasich – a more traditional Republican – garnered 14% of the vote, and a cast of also-rans accumulated 3%.
Nearly 100,000 more votes were cast in Wisconsin for Republican candidates (1,101,046) than for Democratic candidates (1,003,919). Voter turnout topped 47%, the highest recorded in a Wisconsin presidential primary election since 1972. However, even this relatively high number still reveals very poor civic participation in the U.S. not only in an absolute sense but also in comparison with other western democracies. Considering that the Wisconsin primary featured a hot Democratic race, a hotter Republican race, and a hotly-contested state supreme court race (see: Election 2016: GOP surge helps Bradley to Wisconsin Supreme Court win), the majority of all eligible voters did not cast ballots.
Demographically, Cruz did well among suburban and rural voters who are more religiously inclined. Trump’s support came mainly from Wisconsin’s urban areas. Here’s what Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future had to say about the Democratic results:
The margin of Sanders victory – 56.5 percent to 43.1 percent – surprised. He ran even with Clinton among Democrats and slaughtered her among independents (by a 40-point margin) who chose to vote in the Democratic primary. He ran even among women, and enjoyed a big lead among men. Once more he won young voters by staggering margins – 82 to 18 percent among those 18-29, two to one among those 30-44. He lost African American voters, but won young nonwhite voters 54-44. (For analysis of exit poll data go here and here). [emphasis by The Secular Jurist]
Wisconsin voters reflected the attitudes that have largely defined this race. Those most concerned about honesty and trustworthiness or a candidate who cares about “people like me” went for Sanders. Those who valued experience or electability went with Clinton. The economy remained the most important issue, with three-fourths of Democratic voters worried about the direction of the country, and 40 percent fearful that their children will not fare as well as they have.