After Wisconsin, Demographics Suggest Rougher Terrain For Sanders, Cruz Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders had big Wisconsin wins, but they were also fairly predictable based on demographics. Do demographics suggest Wisconsin was an outlier or a turning point?

After Wisconsin, Demographics Suggest Rougher Terrain For Sanders, Cruz

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


If demographics are destiny what does the makeup of New York tell us about how people might vote in the upcoming primary? NPR's Asma Khalid covers issues at the intersection of politics and demographics, and she's here in the studio. Welcome.


CORNISH: So we just heard from Tam about the sparring on the Democratic side, but when you actually look at the electorate of Democrats in New York what do you see?

KHALID: So I've been looking at historical data and current census information. And my takeaway is that New York seems different than just about any state we've seen so far. In 2008, about 50 percent of Democratic primary voters came from the New York City area. And now, those voters are overwhelmingly black, Hispanic and Asian. And Clinton, so far, has had a big advantage with minority voters.

But, look, also within this urban area, there's going to be a lot of young people. New York State as a whole has a higher percentage of young voters than a number of other states that have voted so far. And Bernie Sanders seems to win young voters overwhelmingly. The other thing to pay attention to is when you leave the city and you go upstate - upstate New York - that's a majority white area. And Bernie Sanders seems to be winning white voters across the country. You know, the thing to remember is there just aren't as many of them in New York State.

CORNISH: And on the Republican side what do you see?

KHALID: So one thing I think is fascinating about Donald Trump is that he wins on traditional Democratic turf. You know, so what exactly does that mean? There's an analyst at the Cook Political Report, Dave Wasserman, who pointed this out recently. He said that if you look at where Trump is winning, you'll see that it's essentially blue terrain. He's written that Trump is dominating majority, minority congressional districts by focusing on the white working-class who live in those areas. You know, so all of this is just to say that New York is friendly terrain for Trump.

And, Audie, polling also shows that Trump's doing well across the state - New York City, Long Island, upstate. And on the other side, it seems like Ted Cruz could be having a rough time. New Yorkers, they just aren't that religious, and Cruz has been courting Christian conservatives throughout this campaign.

CORNISH: But it sounds like what you're really saying is this is Donald Trump's turf - right? - even though, like, all the candidates are there, like, really trying to push into this territory.

KHALID: Totally. I mean, New York is the center of Donald Trump's universe. He definitely has a home-court advantage. But, you know, Ted Cruz really hasn't done himself any favors in this city. You might remember in this GOP debate he used the line New York values as an insult that was aimed at Donald Trump. And just yesterday in the Bronx, he doubled down on that New York values comment, and, you know, New Yorkers were not impressed. He was harshly criticized. But it seems like now Ted Cruz is focusing his efforts on communities that might be more receptive to him. He went to a Christian school near Albany this morning and then to a Jewish bakery in Brooklyn.

The thing, though, Audie, that I find super interesting about this New York race is that most polls show Trump with more than 50 percent of the vote in New York. And so far, Trump's been winning states, but he's been getting just the plurality of votes. He's never been able to get past that 50 percent threshold. So this - I mean, it could be a first, and if it is, it would be huge.

CORNISH: NPR's Asma Khalid covers demographics and politics for NPR. Thank you so much.

KHALID: You're welcome.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.