Joe Biden wins Michigan, further knocking Bernie Sanders off course

WASHINGTON —Former Vice President Joe Biden is projected to win Michigan’s primary election according to the Associated Press, further cutting into Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s path to nomination. 

Michigan handed Sanders an odds-defying win in 2016, despite polls that had him trailing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by more than 20 points. An overwhelming number of white working-class voters who opposed free trade deals supported Sanders and solidified his candidacy as competitive. The same couldn’t be said for Tuesday’s contest. 

Biden was able to connect with voters in a way Clinton could not. While Clinton was unable to appeal to non-college educated voters, Biden’s pitch as blue collar “Middle-Class Joe” helped him in states similar to Michigan, like Massachusetts and Minnesota. Biden’s win there was as much as an upset to Sanders as it was a preview of what was to come just a week later. 

Sanders’s inability to turn out young voters in historic numbers, smaller numbers of Latino voters, coupled with Biden’s popularity among working class white voters helped boost the former vice president. Sanders’s popularity in the state was fractured—and his coalition was unable to pick up the pieces. 

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Democratic primaries on March 10, 2020
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Democratic primaries on March 10, 2020
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., visits custodian Davonta Bynes, from left, principal DaRhonda Evans-Stewart and social worker Kim Little outside a polling location at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., visits outside a polling location at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Voters leave a polling location at Bow Elementary in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Voters arrive with masks in light of the coronavirus COVID-19 health concern at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., visits outside a polling location at Warren E. Bow Elementary School in Detroit, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Voters mark their ballots at the Lauderdale County courthouse annex in Meridian Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP)
Amour Fowler, a Jackson, Miss., precinct poll manager delivers a ballot to a curbside voter in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A voter walks into a Jackson, Miss., precinct, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Bernell Jeuitt uses a special ballot reading machine for visually or hearing impaired or handicapped voters in a Jackson, Miss., precinct, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Voters work on their ballots in the kiosks in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A Democratic presidential primary ballot sits next to a roll of "I Voted" stickers in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Mississippi is one of several states holding presidential party primaries today. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A voter takes advantage of the hand sanitizer to "clean up" after voting in the presidential party primary in Ridgeland, Miss., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Polling locations are providing hand sanitizers for voters to use as a cautionary measure in light of the coronavirus health concern nationwide. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
A voter accepts an "I Voted" sticker from Ridgeland, Miss., precinct worker Cliff Smith, right, as she exits after voting in the party presidential primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Wearing gloves, a King County Election worker collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Seattle. Washington is a vote by mail state. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
King County Election workers collect ballots from a drop box in the Washington State primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Seattle. Washington is a vote by mail state. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
Voters drop off ballots in the Washington State primary, Tuesday, March 10, 2020 in Seattle. Washington is a vote by mail state. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
A sign restricting visitors is displayed on the door at the Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Issaquah, east of Seattle, the site of the latest death from the new coronavirus in Washington state on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The Issaquah Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Tuesday, announced that five residents and two staff have tested positive for the new coronavirus. They said a resident also died over the weekend. (AP Photo/Martha Bellisle)
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And while the Sanders campaign boasts high favorability with voters of colors nationally, it was unable to match enthusiasm for Biden from black voters in a state where they make up a significant percentage of the voting population. Michigan’s African-American voters preferred Biden to Sanders by a stunning margin—41 percent to just 16 percent, according to recent polling by Detroit News/WDIV-TV. Sanders was unable to make up that deficit on Tuesday, a shortfall that could cost his campaign the nomination outright. 

Michigan, the first industrial Midwestern state to cast its vote, might be a signal of how other rustbelt state primaries will fare for a Biden versus Sanders matchup. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll paints a grim picture for Sanders, who trails Biden by double digits in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin primary polls. Though, either candidate is projected to face close races against Trump in those same states. 

Still, Biden’s Michigan victory is a stunning blow to Sanders, who, just a week ago had a front-runner status for the Democratic nomination. But Biden’s considerable leads in South Carolina and Super Tuesday races coupled with a slew of powerful endorsements propelled him to the front. Former candidates Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, and Sens. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar all endorsed Biden within the last week.

The Associated Press also called Missouri and Mississippi for Biden.

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