Bernie Sanders unexpected win of the Michigan primary on Tuesday night may not have snagged him as many delegates as Hillary Clinton, but he did surge ahead in a meaningful way. Clinton picked up more delegates due to her win in Mississippi. However, multiple sources are noting that the Vermont Senator readily gave her the biggest upset of the race. Sanders’ victory in Michigan, a stressful, closely matched event that had pundits on the edge of their seat, caused him to surge ahead in public opinion.
The Washington Post poses that his Michigan win symbolizes, as the senator himself said while in Florida, was “that the Bernie Sanders campaign is strong in every part of the country. We believe our strongest areas are yet to come.” The Post goes on to say that it was possible for Clinton and her campaign to dismiss Sander’s success in his home state, in the small, largely Democratic states as a given. However, they were largely inconsequential in the face of her established delegate dominance.
However, Clinton worked hard to win in Michigan, a sprawling state that has a diverse population, and Sanders beat her instead. He may have won by a narrow margin, but as it has been noted on his website, Sanders is used to surging ahead through narrow margins and close calls. In 1981, when he ran for mayor in Burlington, Vt., he only won by 10 votes. He was re-elected by the majority three times afterwards, and ended his mayoral bid by 1990, when he ran for Congress, marking the beginning of his 16 years in the House.
The last minute, neck and neck surge to victory in Michigan might be more of a psychological win against Clinton, alerting her campaign and the media not to underestimate his reach of his message. The Washington Post revealed that Exit polls predicted that Sanders would lose Michigan by over 20 points. Sanders is often earmarked as a one-note candidate, sticking with a message of stomping on economic inequality. His hallmarks on the campaign trail have steadily been about changing the financial and economic landscape of not only the voting process but all of the country.
If these zealous notions can appeal to the larger industrial states at stake throughout the rest of the primary/caucus process, Clinton’s team will be forced to see him as a serious contender. CNN notes that the former Secretary of State’s attempt to debase Sanders during the Sunday debate in Flint backfired when she tried to bring up how he had not supported an auto bailout. He had supported that bailout, what he didn’t support was a larger bailout of Wall Street, which also included money to aid the floundering auto industry. The Washington Post reports that Sanders will continue along his vein of condemning the trade deals that ruined the economy of states like Michigan to Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois and Missouri in the next week.
Sanders’ win ensures that this process will go all the way through until April when Pennsylvania has their primary at the end of the month. CNN speculates that Clinton had been sure that her run would be relatively quick, and the real fight would be against the Republican nominee. Sanders giving her a legitimate run for her money was not a concern, despite the $40 million efforts of his grassroots campaign and his pull with young, first-time voters, a demographic that seemed to elude her in the very beginnings of her campaign. Clinton has been leaning on her history with African American voters for the southern states, especially Mississippi. However, the South is done voting. CNN reports that while Clinton focused a lot of her Michigan campaigning in Wayne County, a largely African-American sector of the State, Sanders, in turn, competed across the state as a whole, and did better than expected in minority-heavy communities. If Sanders can take his Michigan victory and continue surging ahead despite the narrow margin, Clinton may find herself dealing with the Vermont senator for longer than she figured.
By Juanita Lewis
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The Washington Post: Sanders wins surprise, narrow victory in Michigan
The Washington Post: Why Bernie Sanders’s win in Michigan matters so much