Today Wisconsin votes in its presidential primary elections. The Midwestern state has a lot in common politically with Michigan, often voting Democratic in presidential elections, but controlled by Republicans at the state level. Wisconsin also has seen fights in recent years over right-to-work and public education, and has a strong blue-collar base.
Michigan surprised the nation this year with a win for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. Will Wisconsin follow suit? Could Wisconsin be a bellwether state for the Democratic race? And will Donald Trump continue to build momentum in our Great Lakes state to the west?
Wisconsin Public Radio News Director Noah Ovshinsky says no race is a shoe-in, but Ted Cruz is leading Donald Trump in the polls in recent weeks. And he says some of that could be Trump’s fault. The controversial candidate has received lots of criticism, often from within the Republican Party, for a rude and inflammatory campaign strategy.
“There’s this sort of idea of ‘Wisconsin Nice’ and it’s real and it’s something people take very real in this state,” says Ovshinsky. He says conservative talk radio hosts have also been critical of Trump. ”Policy matters for these influential hosts.”
Ovshinsky says Trump “is seen as a mean person in a state that prides itself on being nice.”
On the Democratic side, Sanders leads Clinton in the polls, but by a narrow margin. Ovshinsky says some of Clinton’s struggle in Wisconsin could be attributable to a lack of diversity in Wisconsin. Clinton tends to do better in primaries in more diverse states.
“Wisconsin is not a very diverse state,” says Ovshinsky. But, he says, Wisconsin does have many colleges and universities. ”Sanders is very popular on college campuses.”
Ovshinsky says turnout will matter in tonight’s primary, and insiders are expecting a big voter turnout. But, he says, Wisconsin also has new, strict voter ID requirements, which could dissuade some potential voters.
“People think there’s going to be a lot of confusion, we’ll find out today.”
To hear more from Ovshinsky’s conversation on the Wisconsin primaries on Detroit Today, click on the audio file above.