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Hillary Clinton Claims Dominant Win In Mississippi


As the 2016 presidential race rolls on, we have another day of primaries today. Republicans in Idaho and Hawaii vote. Both parties have contests in Michigan and Mississippi. The polls in Mississippi have just closed, and NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving is here in the studio with the results at this hour. Ron, what do we know?

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Ari, we know that Hillary Clinton has won and won easily in Mississippi. This is not unanticipated. This was a demographic in this state, much like South Carolina, and it was dominated by African-American voters who cast over 60 percent of the votes today and who have been consistently supporting Hillary Clinton in other Southern primaries.

Now, we of course will see results from Michigan later on, so we won't speak to where that might be going at this hour. But we do know that Hillary Clinton has continued her domination of the Southern African-American vote, and she has one tonight in the state of Mississippi with 36 delegates at stake. She will not get all 36, but she'll probably get the lion's share.

SHAPIRO: And we're not yet calling a winner on the Republican side. What can you tell us about the race there?

ELVING: Well, in the Mississippi Republican side, the results are coming in. We don't have a definitive result as yet, but exit polls would, generally speaking, point to a good night for Donald Trump. Although, the exit polls are also telling us that Mississippians identify - 76 percent of them identify as white evangelical Christians or born-again Christians. That has been a good group for Ted Cruz in other states, but he's been sharing it with Donald Trump. And if Donald Trump dominates it again or at least breaks even in that group tonight, he will probably be the winner in Mississippi. But that race has not yet been called.

SHAPIRO: I want to turn now to NPR's Debbie Elliott for more on the GOP race in Mississippi. Debbie, you have been spending the last several days reporting in Mississippi, including a big Donald Trump rally in Madison, Miss., last night. What did you hear from voters there?

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: You know, it was very clear that they liked the fact that this was something different. They kept saying, we needed somebody to stand up. We need somebody who has backbone. One lady even told me, you know, we've had enough with the pansies up there in Washington. So the voters there seem to really like that he tells it like it is, that he uses this plain language. He doesn't tiptoe around things and maybe that he is actually articulating the things that they have been thinking, the things that bother them about the way Republicans have been governing in this country. Many people kept saying, you know, we've had control of the Senate. We've had control of the House, and where has it gotten us?

SHAPIRO: Meanwhile, Ted Cruz has been fighting hard to solidify his status as the anti-Trump, especially trying to appeal to a lot of the evangelical and solidly conservative voters that you find a lot of an Mississippi Republican primaries. What's his campaign been like in Mississippi?

ELLIOTT: You know, he definitely tries to take out Trump as, you know, this guy is not reflecting true conservative Mississippi values. He might be telling you this, but he does not. I am that guy. You know, at the last minute, Cruz had canceled a campaign event that was scheduled for yesterday only to change his mind, to come back to the state and make his case at a cat fish house in Florence, Miss., just before Trump was arriving in the state. And his message was, you know, it's one thing to talk about making America great again, but it's another thing to understand the principles and values that made America great. And his audience there seemed to really appreciate that and really eat that up.


ELLIOTT: He also picked up a really important endorsement from the governor in Mississippi, Phil Bryant, who's in his second term.

SHAPIRO: Briefly take a step back, if you would. This battle we've been seeing within the Republican Party really played out in Mississippi last year with a strong challenge to Senator Thad Cochran in his primary race. He barely held on. Talk about how that applies to what we're seeing today.

ELLIOTT: Well, a state senator backed by the Tea Party, Chris McDaniel, actually beat Thad Cochran in a primary, and the two ended up in this very nasty runoff. And establishment Republicans from all around the country threw everything they had to help Cochran win this very narrow victory. And there's still a lot of lingering bitterness over that. And what was interesting is at the Cruz rally, McDaniel introduced him, so McDaniel is behind Cruz. And then I saw some of the voters who were working for McDaniel actually working for Trump yesterday. So both of those candidates are picking up on that anger.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Debbie Elliot, thanks for joining us.

ELLIOTT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott can be heard telling stories from her native South. She covers the latest news and politics, and is attuned to the region's rich culture and history.
Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for
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