CHEYENNE (AP) — Wyoming Democrats handed presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders another victory Saturday over front-runner Hillary Clinton, but the small delegate prize was split evenly between them.
Officials say the caucuses in 23 counties resulted in seven delegates each after Sanders won 56 percent of the votes cast and Clinton collected 44 percent.
The win did prolong the momentum of Sanders, who has now won seven of the last eight caucuses and primaries but still trails Clinton in the overall delegate count.
The roughly 7,000 Democrats who attended the caucuses showed plenty of enthusiasm and spirit.
At a noisy high school gymnasium in Cheyenne, Van Snow and his girlfriend Sara Rhodes parked themselves in different stands marked off for each candidate.
“I don’t dislike Bernie,” Snow, a 27-year-old attorney, said as he sat on the Clinton side. “He clearly has a lot of passion … But I have some real concerns about his electability to win the general, and I also have concerns about his ability to implement policies.”
Rhodes, a 25-year-old graduate student seeking a social work degree, sat on the Sanders side, which appeared to have a few more people than the Clinton section.
“I feel like he stands for a lot of things that I believe in,” Rhodes said. “I think he’s one of the better candidates for women and people of color and the LGBT community. … I just don’t get a good vibe from Hillary, I guess.”
Ben Rude, 18, of Cheyenne showed up at the Laramie County caucus to observe the process as part of his high school class on U.S. government.
Not registered with any party, Rude said he is undecided about which candidate would receive his first vote ever for president. He’s sure it won’t be Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
“If Trump does win the Republican primary, I most likely will be voting Democrat regardless of the candidate,” Rude said.
Steeped in conservative cowboy culture and proud of being the first state to grant women the right to vote, Wyoming is a heavily Republican state where more than 140,000 residents are registered with the GOP, compared with about 41,000 registered Democrats.
However, the Wyoming Democratic Party has boosted its registration by about 5,000 new members this election year, state party Executive Director Aimee Van Cleave said.
Van Cleave was encouraged by the turnout of about 7,000 people even though it wasn’t as big as the record 8,600 who caucused statewide in 2008.
Sanders made a campaign stop in Wyoming on Tuesday, attracting about 2,000 people at a rally in Laramie. His wife, Jane, held two town hall meetings in Wyoming leading to the caucus.
Clinton bypassed the state in favor of campaigning elsewhere, sending her husband and former President Bill Clinton to Wyoming to campaign on her behalf.
Wyoming has a total of 18 delegates who will cast votes for presidential candidates at the Democratic National Convention in July.
Two are party leaders and two are national committee members who are allowed to vote independently for the candidate for their choice.
Van Cleave said Wyoming will have the fewest delegates among the states at the Democratic convention. Wyoming sends 29 delegates to the national Republican convention.
SHERIDAN COUNTY RESULTS
Total voters: 381
Total supporters for Hillary Clinton: 208
Total supporters for Bernie Sanders: 178
Sheridan County’s 14 delegates will be split evenly between the candidates at the state convention in May.