It might be over before long.
The results may resonate beyond the primary.
Michigan, a key swing state, showed the route Biden will have to take to win Pennsylvania against President Donald Trump. More broadly, the contest crystallized the picture of the new coalition fueling Democrats, suggested that Sanders’ “political revolution” was overestimated, and decreased the chances Pennsylvania will play a major role in the primary.
Here’s what we learned from the latest round of voting:
Michigan is in many ways a good parallel to Pennsylvania.
7073彩票登录 The states are similar economically and demographically, with a mix of manufacturing, agricultural, and white-collar jobs. They each blend urban, suburban, and rural areas. They are both older and whiter than the country as a whole (which proved crucial in Trump’s 2016 victories), but also have large and politically influential African American populations — though relatively small shares of Latinos.
Both were part of the Democratic “blue wall” that, along with Wisconsin, cracked in 2016, supporting Trump and sealing his election.
7073彩票登录 So Pennsylvania Democrats looking for signs of hope against Trump got some Tuesday when they saw Biden far outpacing Hillary Clinton’s performance with nearly every key segment in Michigan.
African Americans came out strong in cities Detroit and Flint, after sagging in 2016. The suburban voters who have turned red areas blue outside Detroit, much like in suburban Philadelphia7073彩票登录, swarmed to the polls. Biden also routed Sanders in rural areas that broke away from Democrats in 2016 and that Sanders won in the primary that year.
His strong showing in those small cities and rural regions suggests Biden may be able to not just energize the Democratic faithful but also win back some of those ancestral Democrats who (for a wide variety of reasons, certainly including sexism) found Clinton unacceptable in 2016, tilting Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to Trump.
7073彩票登录 “He’s much better positioned to win Michigan than Clinton was, and it was such a close call in our state in 2016 that it won’t take a huge shift,” said Jonathan Hanson, a University of Michigan political science lecturer.
7073彩票登录 A similar logic could apply to Pennsylvania, also decided by less than 1 percentage point.
It helped that Biden had history in Michigan: His role in rescuing the auto industry during the financial crisis still resonates with voters. He also has deep ties to Pennsylvania, where he was born and long seen as "the third senator.”
Of course, it’s one thing for Biden to win those rural voters against Sanders. It’s another to do it against Trump.
One of Sanders’ central arguments was that he could create a grassroots movement of young voters who would expand the electorate. It hasn’t happened.
Not in Michigan, and really not anywhere during the primary.
Even though Sanders held a 10,000-person rally on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor on Sunday, he lost the county, Washtenaw, a stark turnaround from when he won it by 12 percentage points against Clinton.
7073彩票登录 In fact, in states where turnout has surged, such as Virginia and Michigan, it’s been Biden romping — another sign of the potency of those suburban and African American voters who see Trump as an existential threat. Young voters, historically unreliable, seem to remain that way. Only 16% of Michigan voters were aged 18 to 29, .
7073彩票登录 After winning Michigan over Clinton in 2016, Sanders Tuesday.
The results — Sanders not just failing to grow his coalition, but losing ground — suggests that much of his past support may have been driven by animus toward Clinton.
7073彩票登录 If that’s true, it could also have major implications for the general election.
7073彩票登录 If Biden proves more acceptable to white, blue-collar voters, he’ll be more strongly positioned to win Pennsylvania.
7073彩票登录 Sanders is likely to lose, but there are still few politicians (Trump is one of them) who have such a visceral connection with his or her supporters.
In Ann Arbor his rally had the feel of a concert, with students climbing trees for better views, dancing and welcoming Sanders like a rock star. In other settings, his support takes on almost a spiritual, rather than political, fervor.
Many attendees said that for young people facing student debt, medical bills, and the damage of climate change, just restoring order (as Biden promises) isn’t enough. They demand big answers.
7073彩票登录 Sanders’ ideas “really energize people, as opposed to Joe Biden,” said Michigan student Kate Shonk, 21. “He doesn’t really stand for anything.”
7073彩票登录 Sanders has also shown unique strength with Latino voters, who are critical in potential swing states such as Arizona, Nevada, and perhaps Texas.
Sanders, speaking Wednesday, gave no hint that he still sees a path to winning, but signaled that he does intend to keep pressing Biden to move left and address the issues driving his supporters.
7073彩票登录 “In order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country, and you must speak to the issues of concern to them," Sanders said, pledging to raise their priorities at a debate with Biden on Sunday.
So while Biden is consolidating support among large segments of the party, he’ll have to keep working to win over others.
The whirlwind turnaround Biden engineered in the last 12 days has been fueled by two groups who demonstrated their muscle within the Democratic coalition: African Americans, a longtime cornerstone, and moderate suburban women, who have rallied in waves ever since Trump won.
Tuesday reinforced their importance.
7073彩票登录 In Mississippi, Biden won , according to CNN exit polling. , he won two of every three black voters, racking up huge wins in Wayne County, home to Detroit.
At the same time, Biden also ran up the score in the upscale suburbs in Oakland County. Those victories mirror his dominant showing in suburban Virginia a week earlier, where many moderate voters and onetime Republicans disdain Trump but also recoiled from Sanders’ platform.
Cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh have long provided Democrats with huge margins in competitive states. Now, the suburbs are part of the picture, and the party will count on both this fall.
7073彩票登录 A few weeks ago, some Democrats were talking about a fight that might last through the summer, and give Pennsylvania a decisive role when its 186 delegates are decided April 28.
7073彩票登录 Now, not so much.
Biden looks as if he has already built an insurmountable lead. If not, he seems poised to get there in the coming weeks when Illinois, Ohio, and Georgia vote.
The race might effectively be over before the end of March.