Bernie Sanders has won the primary in the state of Wisconsin to decide the Democratic candidate for the US presidency.
With almost all the votes counted today, Wednesday, Sanders had won 56.5 percent of the vote. The establishment candidate Hillary Clinton took 43.5 percent.
Sanders has now won seven of the past eight nominating contests. As usual Sanders did very well among young voters. Exit polls showed he was backed by 81 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29.
Ann, a Sanders campaign volunteer, told Socialist Worker, “We have the momentum for the big contests ahead. The media write us off, the polls say we are going to lose—and then we win.
“There’s just so much feeling for change in America at the moment. Bernie is part of that.”
Sanders has been turning up the heat on Clinton. Last week he hit back at the idea that he was peddling impossible dreams. “I’ve been criticized for my big ideas,” he said. “You know what wasn’t too pie-in-the-sky for my opponent? $1.7 trillion to invade Iraq.”
The next contest is in Wyoming on Saturday, but all eyes are on New York on 19 April. Clinton is ahead in the New York polls—but she has been at this stage in several of the states that Sanders has won recently.
Sanders, who says he is a socialist, held a New York launch rally in St. Mary’s Park in the city’s South Bronx area last Saturday. An estimated 18,500 people came.
Local residents were delighted he had come to an area where around 40 percent of people live in poverty. In contrast 1,500 attended Clinton’s event at Harlem’s famous Apollo theatre.
Sanders was born in New York’s Brooklyn, but Clinton was a senator for the state for eight years. She has many links with the party’s establishment—and support from the local union leaders.
At his rally Sanders denounced “Wall Street crooks”. He demanded Clinton release the speeches she gave to well-heeled gatherings at Goldman Sachs and other finance firms for massive fees. He said, “If you’re going to get paid $250,000 for a speech, it must be a brilliant speech. It must be an Earth-shattering speech written in Shakespearean prose.”
Sanders is still behind Clinton in the race, but there is a long way to go. States elect delegates roughly according to their population—96 delegates were at stake in Wisconsin, and 18 will be in Wyoming. But 291 are up for grabs in New York and then 548 in California on 7 June.
Sanders critique of the system has energised what is generally a dreary contest of remote elite figures.
There have been record turnouts in Idaho, Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, Maine and Michigan. All of these exceeded the surge for Barack Obama in 2008.
In a welcome development, some Sanders’ supporters are making it clear that they will not back Clinton if she wins the nomination. Last week pro-Sanders college students interrupted one of her speeches chanting, “She wins, we lose”. They then marched out of the auditorium.
Alyson, one of the demonstrators, said, “Clinton is mainstream, Wall Street, no change. I’m only interested in the new start that Sanders represents. As a minimum.”