Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Democrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' MORE won an upset in Michigan on Tuesday night, overcoming a massive deficit in the polls to stun Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE and claim momentum in the Democratic presidential race.
Entering the primary, the RealClearPolitics average of polls showed Clinton with a 21-point lead over Sanders in Michigan. There had not been one public survey released this cycle that showed Sanders in the lead there.
But with nearly all of the precincts reporting, news outlets called the state for Sanders, who was leading 50 percent to 48 percent over Clinton.
A triumphant Sanders called an impromptu press conference where he was campaigning in Florida to thank voters, even while votes were still being counted in Michigan. He said voters “repudiated the polls” and “repudiated the pundits.”
The momentum, Sanders said, would be enough to propel him to victory.
“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.”
Sanders has now won four of the last six contests in the Democratic presidential race.
Still, Clinton is likely to end the night having modestly added to her delegates lead.
Clinton and Sanders will essentially split the 130 delegates up for grabs in Michigan, while Clinton will take the strong majority of the 36 delegates up for grabs in Mississippi, based on her resounding victory there.
Clinton did not mention her victory in Mississippi or the race in Michigan, which was still going on at the time, at a brief rally in Cleveland earlier in the night.
The campaign has sought to downplay Clinton’s showing in the Wolverine State, arguing that Sanders had campaigned heavily there and that they always expected a closer race than polls suggested.
“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,” campaign manager Robby Mook said on CNN before the polls closed.
Clinton 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.
Still, Sanders argued that most of Clinton’s strongest states are behind her, and that the map gets much better for him going forward.
“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.
Sanders will aim to build on his Michigan victory in other Midwestern states such as Ohio and Missouri, where voters will cast ballots on March 15.
“He’s clearly going to be hanging around here and she’s going to have to contend with him for some time to come,” former Obama adviser David Axelrod said on CNN.
Clinton had hoped to pivot to the general election, and had already begun training the bulk of her fire on Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE.
“That was wishful thinking,” said Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.
Updated 12:15 a.m.