After a very close race, Bernie Sanders has pulled out his biggest win yet in what continues to be an unexpectedly difficult primary season for Hillary Clinton, who had led in the polls in Michigan before Tuesday.
“I want to thank the people of Michigan who repudiated the polls which had us down 20-25 points and repudiated the pundits who said Bernie Sanders wasn’t going anywhere,” Sanders said at a press conference in Miami.
“What tonight means it that the Bernie Sanders campaign, the people’s revolution that we are talking about, is strong in every part of the country and frankly we believe that our strongest areas are yet to happen.”
According to the Guardian, not only did Sanders’ opposition to free trade deals resonate with white, working-class voters in Michigan (as it has elsewhere), there were also signs that he had begun to reach African American voters:
While Sanders had struggled in the south to get above 15% of the vote with black people, exit polls in Michigan showed the Vermont senator winning 30% of the African American vote. In an electorate that was a quarter African American, the improvement in Sanders’ margin was enough to make the race unexpectedly competitive for him.
“Tonight’s win in Michigan is simply massive. A thousand pundits declared Bernie’s campaign dead this week. They’ve been singing the same tune since before the campaign began,” Dan Cantor, national director of the Working Families Party, said in a statement.
“The beltway elite may never have really understood why job-killing trade deals are such a big deal. But the people of Michigan surely do, and Bernie Sanders does too. And it turns out, voters appreciate a candidate who really tells the truth.”
Sanders will likely continue to criticize Clinton over free trade ahead of the upcoming primaries in Ohio and Illinois, the New York Times reports, which share similar electorates to Michigan. The former secretary of state maintains a significant delegate lead.