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” also helped him in states similar to Michigan, such as Massachusetts and Minnesota. Biden’s wins there were as much as an upset to Sanders as they were a preview of what was to come just a week later.
Sanders’s inability to turn out young voters in historic numbers and 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.
And while the Sanders campaign boasts high favorability with voters of color nationally, it was unable to match the enthusiasm for Biden among 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 Rust Belt state primaries will perform in 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. However, 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, along 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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