Former Vice President Joe Biden is projected to win the all-important Michigan primary, according to Fox News and the Associated Press, likely dealing a killer blow to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) hopes of winning the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden was slated to win the Michigan primary, according to a poll released Monday, which put him nearly two dozen points ahead of Vermont socialist Sanders, but Michigan polls have proven incorrect before. Back in 2016, then-frontrunner Hillary Clinton was projected to win the same primary by a cool 20 points but ended up losing to Sanders by 14 points — an upset victory that Sanders’ supporters felt justified their candidate’s continued presence in the race.
At 10pm EST, two hours after polls closed, Biden was leading Sanders by that same 14 points, 54% to 40%. Both former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who exited the race for the Democratic presidential nomination last Monday, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who beat a dismal exit from her own campaign last Wednesday, received support — 3% and 2%, respectively.
Michigan’s primary was the first time the Democratic candidates officially competed in the all-important Rust Belt and Michigan, a “battleground” state with a large percentage of so-called “Reagan Democrats” — moderate Democrats, many of whom are union members, who lean left on economic issues but straddle the line between the two parties on social issues — is seen as key to winning the 2020 presidential election.
President Donald Trump’s message of economic populism resonated loudly with Michigan’s Democrats in 2016 and the Democratic party likely hopes Biden’s folksy persona and demonstrated connection with the working class helps lure voters back into their camp. The stakes are high and Democrats believe the numbers are in their favor; Trump won the state by less than a quarter million votes in 2016.
Michigan also found itself, unexpectedly, a “key” contest in the race for the Democratic nomination. Sanders took an early lead on the competition, winning the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, and then the Nevada caucuses (by an astounding two-to-one margin). Apparently fearful the Vermont socialist would snag the nomination, Democrats pressed Biden in South Carolina, delivering a victory for the “moderate” Obama alum and setting Biden on a winning streak — a streak made all that much easier when Warren, Bloomberg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg bowed out of the contest.
Bloomberg, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) threw their support behind Biden in an effort to unite the party.
With 125 delegates at stake, Michigan was likely Sanders’ last stand and his last opportunity to prove he could take on the Democratic machine. If Biden takes Michigan by as large a margin as expected, it means Sanders has few opportunities to catch Biden in the delegate race and he may be forced to finally bow out.
At 10pm EST, Biden had also won Missouri and Mississippi, continuing his record of domination of the Rust Belt and south.
Despite Biden’s win, Trump’s campaign told media Tuesday night that they believe they will ultimately prevail in Michigan, particularly in light of an incident Tuesday morning, where Biden, confronted by an auto worker on the issue of gun rights, lost his cool, calling the man a “horse’s a**” and threatening a slap.
“It has never mattered who the Democrat nominee turns out to be, and now that there are only two options left, it is clear that they are two sides of the same coin,” Trump 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said in a statement, per Fox News. “The Democrat candidate for president will be running on a big government socialist agenda regardless of the name on the ballot. It is also clear that the Democrat establishment has rallied around the confused Joe Biden in an effort to deny the nomination to Bernie Sanders. Either way, President Trump is on an unstoppable drive toward re-election.”