Former Vice President Joe Biden is projected to win first place in the Michigan Democratic Primary in a major defeat for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who narrowly carried the midwestern state in a 2016 upset against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Fox News projects.
Biden will now carry a majority of the state’s 125 delegates putting the former vice president even closer to capturing the 1,991 needed of the 3,979 in play to clinch the Democratic coronation in Milwaukee.
Michigan is the largest of the six states to vote this week in Super Tuesday 2.0 and the first major midwestern battleground to vote in the Democratic primary. The state will join Mississippi and Missouri which were also added to Biden’s winning column on Tuesday night shortly after polls closed at 8 p.m. eastern. Other states to cast their ballots Tuesday include Idaho, Washington, and North Dakota where polls are either haven’t yet closed or are too close to call.
Four years ago, Sanders revived his sinking campaign after a series of losses on Super Tuesday by pulling off a narrow victory in Michigan with 49.8 percent to Clinton’s 48.3 despite polling 16 points behind Clinton. The same case was not to be in 2020, where Biden surging after 10 major wins in last week’s contests led Sanders by more than 20 percent in RealClearPolitics’ aggregate of polls on election day which held out to be reflected in Tuesday night’s vote totals.
The Sanders campaign made clear where its focus was on this week’s contests, cancelling a Mississippi rally to spend more time in the Wolverine State.
In the final days leading up to this year’s showdown, Sanders tried, and failed to recreate the midwestern momentum that propelled his campaign in 2016 by going after Biden on trade, a major issue in the state by attacking the former Delaware senator’s past support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The landmark agreement is particularly unpopular in key areas of the state that saw a loss in auto manufacturing jobs that left to Mexico.
Sanders also tried to appeal directly to black voters who have so far provided the foundation of Biden’s support with a speech in Flint. According to the New York Times however, the event only drew mostly white people and Sanders’ remarks varied little from his regular stump speech. Biden also scored endorsements from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and California Sen. Kamala Harris in the 48 hours prior to voting, two black senators and former presidential rivals to help cement his support going into Michigan to deliver a knock-out blow to Sanders.
While Sanders lost a majority of Michigan’s delegates to Biden, the loss spells more trouble for the senator who will now struggle to convince Democratic voters of his ability to win the critical rust-belt states that flipped to Trump such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. As Biden continues to pick up delegates to secure the nomination, the path for Sanders grows steeper with every loss, particularly in battleground states seen as must-win contests for any Democratic nominee.
Voters will go to the polls in Ohio next week.