- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders won the presidential primaries in Rhode Island on Tuesday, a decisive victory for their anti-establishment campaigns.

The state was an outlier compared to most other Eastern states where Hillary Clinton won Tuesday. But of the five that held primaries, Rhode Island was also the only one where independent voters could select either the Democratic or Republican ballot.

Half of the state’s registered voters are unaffiliated and both the Trump and Sanders campaigns sought to win them over.

The nation’s smallest state offered an unpredictable prize as thousands of Rhode Islanders crowded voting places to cast their ballots.

It was an upset for Clinton in a place where she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, have historically been popular. She won endorsements this year from the state’s Democratic establishment and handily beat Barack Obama here in the last contested Democratic primary in 2008.

But Sanders drew thousands of supporters when he spoke at a Providence park Sunday, a day after Clinton held a more intimate event in Central Falls.

Of the 33 delegates Rhode Island is sending to the Democratic convention, nine are super delegates who have already committed to Clinton and 24 were up for grabs.

Elections officials in Providence, Warwick and Pawtucket reported no major problems, but the consolidation of polling places caused long wait times at some sites with heavy turnout.

The state had one-third fewer polls open than it does during a general election. In liberal Providence neighborhoods where turnout was high, some voters waited as long as a half hour before casting ballots. In Central Falls, there were no lines but a steady stream of voters walking into the compact and heavily Democratic city’s only polling place.

Turnout was so high on Block Island that the remote community nearly ran out of Democratic ballots. Mainland poll workers in Narragansett and the captain of the day’s last ferry helped save the island’s election by getting 100 extra Democratic ballots shipped out before sundown.

“We definitely would not have made it to the end of the night,” said Molly Fitzpatrick, the clerk at Block Island’s New Shoreham Town Hall. “It was a pretty amazing exercise in cooperation and coordination to get it accomplished.”

In the Republican race, the Kasich and Cruz campaigns had hoped to chip away at front-runner Trump by winning enough share of the vote to capture at least a handful of the 19 delegates heading to the GOP convention. Trump, who flew into the state to campaign Monday, urged supporters to give him enough of a landslide to shut out his contenders.

The delegates will be allocated proportionally.

Pawtucket Registrar Ken McGill said that even the rainy weather didn’t seem to lower the turnout.

“People are so passionate about this election and their candidates,” he said.

Jessica Archer, of Pawtucket, said she was motivated to vote for Sanders because of the rising cost of higher education and the shrinking of the middle class.

“I have a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old. I’m still paying for my own higher education,” said Archer, an artist and stay-at-home mom. “My daughter will be done paying for college before I’m done with mine.”

Wayne Smith, a 72-year-old independent voter and retired toolmaker in Pawtucket, said he voted for Trump because “he’s anti-establishment, which is what we probably need.”

In Pawtucket’s Quality Hill neighborhood, the appeal of an anti-establishment candidate was evident at the home of Patrick O’Neill, where signs for Sanders and Trump were propped up on the same lawn. O’Neill, who lives upstairs, said he’s for Sanders. His dad, the landlord, is for Trump.

“Anybody but Hillary, really,” he said.

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