The only thing that matters in Wisconsin's Democratic primary

Key to Wisconsin Primaries

Bernie Sanders is expected to beat Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin Democratic primary Tuesday, but the only thing that matters is the margin. Without a decisive victory, the outcome will do little to change the trajectory of the race. If he loses, on the other hand, Sanders' already sketchy path to the nomination could vanish entirely.

But recent polls have shown Sanders ahead by, at most, about five percentage points. Sanders said Monday night he expects the race to be "very close."

Democrats award delegates proportionally, so Sanders will need to win big to make a dent in Clinton's 255 pledged delegates lead. That's especially true in Wisconsin, thanks to the way the system uses congressional district to allot Tuesday's haul.

Click through images of celebrities who have endorsed Bernie Sanders:

Celebrities who endorse Bernie Sanders
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The only thing that matters in Wisconsin's Democratic primary

Killer Mike of Run the Jewels 

The rapper has been very vocal within the hip-hop community about his endorsement of Sanders, and even introduced him at an Atlanta rally. 

Image via Getty

Danny DeVito 

In August 2015, the 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' actor took to Twitter, saying, "Bernie're our only hope Obi-Wan Kenobi". 

Image via Getty

Mark Ruffalo

Ruffalo used Twitter to share his political stance on January 17th of this year, saying, "@BernieSanders is preferred 2-1 by young people because they know his means what he says."

Image via Getty

Susan Sarandon 

In June of last year, Sarandon posted a video titled 'Flashback: Rep. Bernie Sanders Opposes Iraq War' along with the caption "We need a leader who is courageous and levelheaded in times of crisis:Bernie Sanders ‪#‎Bernie2016‬.

The liberal activist has since been seen campaigning for Sanders in Portland, Maine and introducing him on the campaign trail. 

Image via Getty

Belinda Carlisle

Back in August of last year, the lead singer of The Go-Go's tweeted, "yes, I switched candidate!" above an announcement that Bernie Sanders would be joining CNN's State of the Union. 

Ever since then she has been an avid supporter on social media. 

Image via Getty

Justin Long 

The 'Dodgeball' actor introduced Bernie Sanders at a campaign event in Des Moines shortly before the Iowa Caucus. 

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Sarah Silverman 

Sarah Silverman was among other celebs who headlined a fundraiser for the presidential candidate at Hollywood’s Laugh Factory on January 26th. 

Image via Getty

George Lopez 

After tweeting "WATCHA I Am #feelingthebern. Today I'm proud to officially endorse @BernieSanders for President" late last year, the actor has made headlining appearances at Sanders' fundraising events. 

Image via Getty 

Spike Lee 

After citing his endorsement on a radio show recently, he elaborated on his commitment to Sanders, saying: “Bernie was at the March on Washington with Dr. King. He was arrested in Chicago for protesting segregation in public schools. He fought for wealth and education equality throughout his whole career. No flipping, no flopping. Enough talk. Time for action.”

Image via Getty


RELATED: Clinton, Sanders take on controversial judge as Wisconsin heats up

As Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Craig Gilbert wrote last week, "Democratic rules in Wisconsin make it almost impossible to make big delegate gains." In 2008, for instance, Barack Obama crushed Clinton by 17-points, but netted only 10 delegates from the state.

Aware the race is unlikely to dramatically affect the delegate outcome, Clinton's campaign seemed ready to concede the state Monday night. "We could lose Wisconsin," her campaign said in a fundraising email to supporters. "We're down in almost every poll in Wisconsin - tomorrow's primary is going to be a tough fight."

That statement should be taken with a giant grain of salt, since Clinton's campaign has adroitly lowered expectations in previous contests, only to eek out a win and call it an upset. "I think they're trying to depress expectations as much as possible in Wisconsin and then get as many votes as possible," Sanders' top strategist Tad Devine told MSNBC.

Meanwhile, the Vermont senator has done the reverse, telling massive crowds that they're on the verge of putting him over the top in Wisconsin. Sanders has spoken to more than 38,000 supporters over the past week alone in numerous stops across the state.

"Tomorrow, if there is a good turnout in Wisconsin, if there is a record-breaking turnout in Wisconsin, we are going to win here as well," Sanders told 2,400 in Milwaukee Monday night.

Turnout is expected to break records Tuesday, thanks to interest in both parties' presidential primaries and a heated Wisconsin Supreme Court race.

Sanders went on to note that the candidate who wins Wisconsin has gone on to secure the Democratic nomination every year since 1960, except for one. "Wisconsin has played an enormously important role in determining who the president of the United States will be," he said.

Clinton has focused her efforts on Milwaukee, the state's largest city, where 40 percent of the population is black.

Madison, meanwhile, is Sanders' stronghold.

The senator has packed giant arenas in the liberal college town on several occasions, and it was one of the first places where the Sanders movement showed itself. The rural upper areas of the state are also likely to favor Sanders, as they did in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last month.

Sanders is hoping to compete in Milwaukee with a message aimed at disaffected post-industrial workers, as well as its tens of thousands of college students. He's also focused on Janesville, which has been hard by the decline of manufacturing jobs.

Cities like Green Bay and Eau Claire are seen as battlegrounds.

Wisconsin has been overshadowed a bit by New York's primary on April 19. Neither Clinton nor Sanders will be in Wisconsin to watch returns roll in. Sanders will be in Wyoming, looking ahead to that state's caucus on Saturday, where he is expected to do well. Clinton will not hold a public event Tuesday.

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