On what was being dubbed Super Tuesday 2, Democratic candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders scored the biggest primary polling upset in history winning the Michigan primary after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton consistently polled over 20 percent of Sanders. Sanders won the delegate-rich state on Tuesday evening, March 8, 2016, shocking all the news media when all polls leading up to the vote indicated Clinton was certain to win.
Sanders victory blocked Clinton’s momentum to wrap up the Democratic nomination. The press was in shock calling it “stunning,” “shocking,” an “upset” and “embarrassing” for Clinton. Sanders was leading in the results from the start of returns coming in, but it took the Associated Press, nearly four hours to call the race for Sanders who won by less than two percent of the vote, 50 to 48 percent. Clinton was looking to sweep the contests after her big Super Tuesday wins on March 1, but Sanders campaign still keeps up its momentum.
So far, in this primary season, Clinton has failed except a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucus and the Massachusetts primary to win any other state except those in the South. Clinton again scored a victory in a Southern state by a wide margin on Tuesday winning Mississippi 82.6 to 16.5 percent. Clinton’s wins in those states have largely been attributed to her overwhelming support from minorities, particularly African American voters. Clinton won nine out of ten African American votes on Tuesday. Sanders is boasting himself as the more national candidate after varied primary and caucus wins.
Sanders victory in Michigan proved his message of economic populism fighting inequality, and Wall Street is resonating with Democratic voters. His victory might bode him well in future important primary states including the rust belt, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. There were 166 delegates at stake for Democrats on Tuesday evening, with 130 just from Michigan alone. Not counting superdelegates, Clinton only maintains a lead over Sanders of nearly 200 pledged delegates. Sanders supporters do not find it insurmountable and are hoping non-pledged superdelegates will be swayed by Sanders’ continued victory in varied states.
Speaking from Miami, Florida where he is campaigning Sanders spoke just before the Associated Press officially called him the winner in Michigan. Sanders said, “What tonight means is that the Bernie Sanders campaign, the people’s revolution that we’re talking about, the political revolution that we’re talking about, is strong in every part of the country. And, frankly, we believe our strongest areas are yet to happen.”
The Vermont senator highlighted his campaign’s poll deficit. Sanders stated, “We started this campaign 10 months ago, we were 60 or 70 points down in the polls. But we’ve seen in poll after poll and state after state, we’ve created the kind of momentum that we need to win. It’s not clear yet who will win this election, but I just want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Michigan who repudiated the polls that had us 20-25 points down a few days ago, who repudiated the pundits who said that Bernie Sanders was not going anywhere.”
Clinton did not personally respond to her loss; sources say her campaign is shocked and “shaken” by the results. Officially, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri responded to the press, “We don’t know how it is going to go. But our strategy is built around accruing delegates and we will come out on top on delegates.” Clinton campaigned hard in Michigan, bringing out her husband, former President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea, in addition to heavy advertising, but it was not enough to turn her poll numbers into victory.
Campaigning in Detroit on Monday, Clinton prematurely looked towards the general election. Clinton said, “The sooner I could become your nominee, the more I could begin to turn my attention to the Republicans.” Clinton speaking in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday evening was a bit humbled by the results coming in Michigan. Clinton said, “I’m proud of the campaign that Sen. Sanders and I are running. We have our differences, but I’ll tell ya what, those differences pale when compared to what’s happening on the Republican side. As the rhetoric keeps sinking lower, the stakes in this election keep getting higher.”
Clinton’s strategy of attacking Sanders over his vote against the 2009 auto-bailout backfired while his attacks on her support for the North American Free Trade Deal that her husband signed in 1993 resonated with voters. Detroit has gone from one of the country’s richest city to one of its poorest, and this mindset was reflected in its voting. Sanders won over 80 percent of the youth vote, a majority of the male of the male votes, and of those that believe Sanders is the candidate that understands their problems best. The Democrats are set to debate Wednesday evening, March 9 in Florida. Important delegate-rich states of Florida and Ohio go to the polls on Tuesday, March 15.