Super Tuesday: Sanders, Clinton and Trump won big in Berkshire voting
PITTSFIELD — Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took home the lion's share of primary votes in the Berkshires on Tuesday, while Donald Trump dominated four other Republicans, who divided a much smaller total overall.
With all communities reporting, the Vermont senator had claimed victories in 26 cities and towns, compared to eight for former Secretary of State Clinton. The countywide totals, according to unofficial results provided by clerks' offices, stood at 13,790 for Sanders to 12,842 for Clinton as of Wednesday evening.
The Clinton campaign did take Pittsfield — 4,204 to 3,956 — and a few other towns, including Lenox, Williamstown and Stockbridge. She also won the primary statewide.
But Sanders won the countywide vote with small to significant margins in more than two dozen communities. Those included North Adams, Great Barrington and Lee.
"Overall in Massachusetts, I think Bernie performed well," said Sanders supporter John Krol, the Ward 6 city councilor.
Among young and working class voters, Sanders displayed strength statewide and nationally, Krol said, indicating a possible factor in future primary contests — as well as a concern for the Democratic Party.
"There were no big surprises" in Berkshire County voting, said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, except for Williamstown's vote in favor of Clinton, which he hadn't expected.
"The Sanders campaign was very well organized in the Berkshires," Pignatelli said, but the Clinton campaign came together more toward the end. "I think their big win was in taking Massachusetts."
Clinton won statewide by a margin of about 2 percentage points, taking most of the more urban areas, while Sanders was very strong in smaller communities.
The Democratic race here, as well as the Republican primary race, played out against the backdrop of Super Tuesday, when 11 states participated in nomination contests.
Trump won seven states, compared to rivals Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who took three states, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who won one state. Clinton took seven states nationally, compared to four for Sanders.
Pignatelli said the fact both Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton campaigned in Massachusetts over the past week "spoke volumes to me that they thought they could win."
Winning a state "in Sanders' backyard" was likely the strategy, he said, which prompted a strong effort by Clinton and her Massachusetts Democratic allies. Those included U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and many other party officials.
Krol noted Wednesday he found it interesting that Sanders possibly received more votes within Neal's 1st Congressional District, according to published vote totals. He said that could raise the question of whether Neal — one of the party's uncommitted or superdelegates — should reconsider his support for Clinton.
Republican voting in the Berkshires on Tuesday in part reflected the party's minority status in what is considered a solid "blue" state.
Trump took 3,397 votes in the county, compared to 371 for Dr. Ben Carson, 1,517 for Rubio, 1,000 for Cruz, and 1,272 for Ohio Sen. John Kasich, who also did well in the New Hampshire Primary and has been described as the more moderate candidate in the GOP lineup.
Trump, who did not appear to have a local organization in the Berkshires, nevertheless won easily here and statewide, where he took just over 49 percent to 18 percent for Kasich, 17.9 percent for Rubio, 9.6 percent for Cruz and 2.6 for Carson.
"He is a very unique candidate," Pignatelli said. "He won in the Deep South and liberal Massachusetts."
Going forward in the campaign, Krol said that, win or lose at the Democratic convention, Sanders has highlighted "a generational shift" and tapped into some of the working class anger at the establishment that also has fueled Trump's campaign.
He noted that Clinton did much better with those groups in 2008 when she ran against then-Sen. Barack Obama in the Massachusetts primary.
"I think he [Sanders] has inspired a new generation of voter," Krol said, and that could translate into a new more progressive generation of office-seekers as well.
The Democrats, he said, should "do some soul-searching" about what their messages to voters should be if they want to close those voter gaps.
Pignatelli said he's hoping the party will unify in time for the November election.
"I think Bernie Sanders has added so much to this campaign," he said. "I think both candidates are now saying similar things."
Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.
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