In the face of polls that showed him behind by over 20 points, Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in Michigan to claim his biggest victory yet in the 2016 race for President, giving Sanders fresh momentum in his fight for the Democratic Party nomination.
“That’s a major, game-changing victory for our campaign,” Sanders said in a fundraising email sent to supporters just before midnight, as he looked ahead to five major states voting on March 15.
“The pollsters said we were way behind,” Sanders added – which was true, as not one recent poll in Michigan hinted at any kind of victory over Clinton.
The victory overshadowed Clinton’s landslide win in Mississippi, where she had an astonishing 83 percent of the vote, capping a series of wins across the Deep South.
But that victory seemed hollow several hours later, when the networks finally called Michigan for Sanders, giving him an opportunity to inject new energy into his long shot bid.
And it left Democrats in the Congress wondering how it happened.
Clinton had hoped to win both states on Tuesday, and create an air of inevitability about her campaign – now, she will have to fight it out with Sanders over the next week in Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Illinois and Florida.
Clinton’s team emphasized the delegate math, as they argued – correctly – that she would win more delegates from Mississippi and Michigan.
But the loss in Michigan was certainly not expected, and will drive the narrative about this race, for at least another week.