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Sanders Gains Few Delegates Despite Commanding Wisconsin Victory

Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders Nets Just Four Democratic Delegates Over Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Despite a big win in Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders netted only four delegates in his race against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The lopsided victory paired with the modest reward illustrates the difficulty Sanders faces in catching Clinton in the national chase for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders beat Clinton by roughly 13 percentage points in Wisconsin’s statewide primary, or roughly 135,000 votes. He also won seven of Wisconsin’s eight congressional Districts.

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It was a commanding win by Sanders, but because of the way the Democratic Party allocates its delegates, it won’t change the trajectory of the national race.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party distributes its delegates proportionally, some on a statewide level and some by congressional district, with more weight assigned to districts with strong Democratic turnout. Under that system, Sanders won a total of 48 delegates Tuesday. Clinton won 38.

That does not include the party’s unpledged delegates — also known as superdelegates — who are Democratic members of Congress, officials in the state party leaders and Democratic National Committee members from Wisconsin. Superdelegates can support whomever they choose in the presidential primary and are not bound by the result of the popular vote.

Prior to Tuesday’s primary, six out of Wisconsin’s 10 Democratic superdelegates had already said they’ll support Clinton. That raises her Wisconsin delegate total to 44, or just four fewer than Sanders.

To put that in some context, if Democrats operated under the same guidelines as Wisconsin Republicans, Sanders would have nearly swept Wisconsin’s delegates.

Under state GOP rules, 18 delegates are awarded to the statewide primary winner along with three delegates to the winner of each congressional district. Because Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the statewide vote and six congressional districts, he won 36 delegates. Donald Trump won two congressional districts, giving him a total of six delegates. That gave Cruz a net delegate gain of 30 in Wisconsin.

Nationally, Trump is still the frontrunner among Republicans, with 743 delegates won compared to 517 for Cruz. GOP candidates need 1,237 delegates nomination.

Among Democrats, Clinton leads Sanders 1,280 to 1,030 among pledged delegates, but once superdelegates are counted, Clinton leads 1,749 to 1,061. Some 2,383 delegates are needed to secure the Democratic nomination.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Sanders won all of Wisconsin’s congressional districts. He won all but one. The story has been updated.