Hillary Clinton claimed primary victories in Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, but on the Democratic side at least, Rhode Island went its own way. Nearly 55 percent of voters in the Democratic primary chose Sanders, compared with 43 percent for Clinton. Sanders' margin of victory was larger than expected.
In the Republican primary, businessman Donald Trump carried the day as expected. He won all five states holding primaries Tuesday, including Rhode Island, where he picked up 63.6 percent of the vote. Ohio Governor John Kasich came in second with 24 percent.
Even with the win in Rhode Island, Sanders faces a difficult road in the Democratic race against Clinton, who widened her overall lead in delegates.
“I am proud that we were able to win a resounding victory tonight in Rhode Island, the one state with an open primary where independents had a say in the outcome," Sanders said in a written statement issued Tuesday night.
"Democrats should recognize that the ticket with the best chance of winning this November must attract support from independents as well as Democrats. I am proud of my campaign’s record in that regard."
Voter turnout was reported to be good on Tuesday as Rhode Islanders headed to the polls. Election and campaign officials reported no major problems at any polling places.
The voting came after no fewer than four presidential candidates and a former president visited Rhode Island to rally voters. Depending on the outcome in the five states holding primaries, Tuesday could put a serious damper on challenges to the front-runners, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
Republican Donald Trump became the fourth presidential candidate to campaign in Rhode Island with a stop in Warwick Monday. The state is one of five contests Tuesday that could make front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton almost impossible to beat.
There were some concerns that voters might be confused by changes in their polling place since the last election. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea urged Rhode Islanders to verify their polling place online.
"The board of elections, with the local boards of canvassers takes a look at the expected turnout, and historically they have always had few polling places open for presidential primaries," Gorbea explained. "So your polling place may have changed."
This is the first presidential primary in Rhode Island requiring photo identification.
"Like a current driver’s license, you can also use a military ID," said Gorbea. "You can use a passport, you can use a college or higher education photo identification card from any higher education institution in the United States."
Out of five states voting Tuesday, Rhode Island is the only state where unaffiliated voters can select either primary. After casting a ballot, those voters become affiliated with the party whose primary they chose to vote in, but they can also disaffiliate again on the way out of the polling place.
In Cranston, staffers with local Board of Canvassers report no problems dealing with higher-than-predicted voter turnout. However there have been reports of voters disappointed they could not change party affiliation, to vote in a different party primary.
At Barrington Middle School Tuesday morning, there were no long lines at the polls, but a steady stream of voters made their way through. Alice Cotter voted for Hillary Clinton.
“I think she’d be the best president, because she has a record that I appreciate,” said Cotter. “I like her stances, and I don’t buy all the other baloney that is being put forth about her.”
Fellow Barrington resident Alice Cross, wanted to vote in republican primary for John Kasich, but couldn’t because registered democrat, voted for Hillary Clinton
“I’m fine with Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. But I wanted to make my vote against Trump, alas and alack I couldn’t do that.
Colin Peck, voted for Bernie Sanders
“I voted for Bernie. I like his ideas,” said Peck. “I like what he’s trying to do.”
In Newport, there were a variety of views represented at one polling place near the historic city waterfront. Some 400 people had voted by lunchtime.
Maryanne Coen voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton because she feels Clinton is the best qualified for the job.
I just think she's the most experienced running for this office," said Coen. The Newport resident said she didn't vote for Clinton in 2008, but felt strongly that the former Secretary of State was the strongest contender this year. "I looked at the other candidates and decided that i felt she could do the job that needs to be done."
Also in Newport, Steven Doroch voted for Trump.
“I want change. I’ve had enough of the system the way it works, and the way it doesn’t work actually. He’s not an insider, he’s not a normal person, he’s different. He doesn’t belong to the status quo.”
Frank Coleman, says he's frustrated with Democrats he considers to be established, and voted for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
“I voted for Bernie. I think he’s an honest guy, I really do. Where a lot of the politicians have been involved for many years become a little unreliable, and we’ve just had it in Rhode Island.” Newport resident Coleman said he's also frustrated with the elected Democratic leaders in Rhode Island, most of whom have thrown their support behind Hillary Clinton.