Bernie Sanders pulled off his biggest win of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday, defeating Hillary Clinton in the Michigan primary on a night which also confirmed strong anti-establishment support for Donald Trump in the battle for the Republican nomination.
In an industrial state hit hard by the decline of manufacturing, the Vermont senator’s consistent opposition to free trade deals appears to have been a decisive factor, but he also showed signs of weakening Clinton’s dominance among African American voters.
The shock victory – 49.9%-48.2% with 99.3% reporting – comes despite Sanders trailing the former secretary of state by an average of 21 points in recent opinion polling.
“What tonight means is 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,” said the senator at a hastily arranged press conference in Miami.
“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,” he added.
With 130 delegates, Michigan was the second-largest prize of the election so far, but the proportional system used throughout the presidential primary byDemocrats means Clinton will still end the night ahead thanks to her decisive win in Mississippi.
Her 82.6%-16.5% victory there, bolstered by overwhelming support among African American voters, was widely expected and matched similar wipe-outs for Sanders elsewhere in the south. Exit polls showed that 89% of black voters in Mississippi’s Democratic primary supported Clinton and made up 69% of the electorate.
Yet Sanders’s success in Michigan was helped by the fact that he significantly improved his performance with 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.
Read more: The Guardian