A triumphant Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders skirts Biden's claim that he'll endorse Clinton The Trail 2016: Meet and greet and grief Biden spills beans: Sanders will endorse Clinton MORE said the momentum his campaign will gain from a surprise showing in Michigan on Tuesday night will be enough to propel him to victory over heavy favorite Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump: 'I’m just flabbergasted’ by Clinton-Lynch meet AFL-CIO head: Trump’s ‘a fraud’ Sanders skirts Biden's claim that he'll endorse Clinton MORE in the Democratic presidential contest.
Speaking at an impromptu press conference in Florida shortly before media outlets projected him winning in Michigan, Sanders declared he had shocked the political world by coming out of nowhere to compete in the Wolverine State.
“We are in the midst of a very tight race,” Sanders said. “It’s not clear yet who will win this election, but I just want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Michigan who repudiated the polls that had us 20-25 points down a few days ago, who repudiated the pundits who said that Bernie Sanders was not going anywhere.”
Entering election day, the RealClearPolitics average of polls showed Clinton with a 21-point lead over Sanders. There has not been one public survey released this cycle that showed Sanders in the lead there.
But with 94 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders had 50.3 percent support to Clinton's 47.6 percent.
“We started this campaign 10 months ago, we were 60 or 70 points down in the polls,” Sanders said. “But we’ve seen in poll after poll and state after state, we’ve created the kind of momentum that we need to win. This has been a fantastic night in Michigan.”
Still, the candidates will essentially split the 130 delegates up for grabs. Clinton could end the night having modestly added to her delegate lead based on a resounding victory in Mississippi, where there were 36 delegates up for grabs.
But Sanders has clear momentum in the race, by virtue of winning three out of four contests over the weekend and surpassing Clinton in Michigan.
At a brief rally in Cleveland earlier in the night, Clinton did not mention her victory in Mississippi or the ongoing race in Michigan.
She entered the night with a lead of about 200 delegates, and still maintains an overwhelming advantage among super-delegates. In addition, Sanders has so far failed to make inroads among the African-American voters who have sent Clinton to huge victories in the Deep South.
But Sanders argued that Clinton's strongest states are behind her, and that now the map gets much better for him.
“The political revolution we’re talking about is strong in every part of the country and frankly we believe that our strongest areas are yet to happen,” Sanders said.
Earlier in the night, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook sought to downplay Clinton’s showing in Michigan, noting that Sanders campaigned heavily there and that they always expected a close race.
“They went all in for Michigan, put all their chips on the table, outspent us and released their harshest attacks to date and they said this is a make-or-break state,” Mook said.