Bernie Sanders promises a political revolution, and on Tuesday he dramatically upended expectations, beating Hillary Clinton in Michigan.
Sanders’s tight victory surprised nearly everyone—including the Sanders campaign. The candidate spoke early in the night, then reemerged for a hastily arranged statement as the late returns suggested he was headed to victory. By the time the race was called, after 11 p.m., he had gone to bed. Nate Silver described the win as “among the greatest polling errors in primary history.” In practice, the win won’t provide a huge cache of delegates to Sanders, who trails Clinton, thanks to proportional representation rules.
But the win offers Sanders new momentum, along with two promising indicators. First, he was able to cut into Clinton’s consistent edge with black voters. Exit polls suggested Sanders won three in 10 African Americans in Michigan, his best showing so far. Second, it offers evidence that his message of fighting for blue-collar workers and opposing free-trade deals can resonate—and with Ohio and Illinois coming up on the primary calendar on March 15, he’ll soon have the opportunity to employ that message again.
It’s too early to tell why expectations were so far off in Michigan, and why the polls missed by so much. As polling places closed, the Clinton campaign hastened to depress expectations. One potential culprit is Clinton’s late attack on Sanders, in which she alleged that he had opposed the rescue of the car industry, because he had voted against bank-bailout bills that included funds for automakers. The attack seemed implausible on its face, much like Clinton’s earlier attempt to convince voters that Sanders wanted to eliminate Obamacare. But that charge might have been as much a symptom of Sanders’s gains—a last-ditch hit launched by the Clinton campaign as her edge dwindled in internal polls—as it was their cause. Sanders also benefited from his appeal to independents, who are permitted to vote in Michigan’s Democratic primary. Some reporters speculated that Clinton was also hurt by voters who crossed over to vote Republican, thinking she had the race locked up.
“I want to thank the people of Michigan who repudiated the polls [and] who repudiated the pundits,” Sanders said in his late-night comments. “What tonight means is that the Bernie Sanders campaign, the people’s revolution that we are talking about, the political revolution that we are talking about, is strong in every part of the country, and frankly we believe that our strongest parts are yet to come.”
Sanders’s upset is all the more interesting because the rest of the evening played out pretty much exactly as expected. In Mississippi, Clinton easily defeated Sanders. On the Republican side, Donald Trump cruised to victory in Michigan, Mississippi, and Hawaii. Ted Cruz won in Idaho.
In short, Trump is back—if he ever left. After underperforming high expectations on Saturday, he rebounded on Tuesday. In Mississippi, he neared the 50 percent mark, with Ted Cruz trailing around 10 points back. In Michigan, Trump was headed toward more than a third of the vote, with Cruz and John Kasich fighting for second place in a tight race. For Cruz, the Mississippi result is a disappointment. Once again, Trump, the thrice-married, prevaricating loudmouth from New York, beat him in the South and won most evangelical voters (taking 48 percent, according to exit polls)—stealing both the region and the demographic that were supposed to lift Cruz. The Texan remains the consensus alternative to Trump, though. Kasich, meanwhile, had campaigned hard in Michigan, betting that its proximity and similarity to his home state of Ohio would lift him. The March 15 primary in the Buckeye State is a must-win and could be his last stand.
But Marco Rubio was the night’s biggest loser. The Florida senator failed to cross the 15 percent threshold required to win a share of the delegates in either Mississippi or Michigan. He didn’t even clear 10 percent. Those poor showings come on the heels of a nearly as dismal March 5 performance, mitigated only by his win in Puerto Rico on March 6. It’s a catastrophic moment for Rubio, who once seemed to have a bright future in the Republican Party, and who had won the affection of the party’s establishment. It’s clear now how little that counts for this year. Ordinarily, Rubio might face calls to drop out of the race now, but with his home-state Florida primary approaching on March 15, he might just hang until then. He’s promised to win the Sunshine State, but few analysts or polls give him a strong chance.
On stage at a rally there Tuesday, Rubio touted the Florida Gators and joked, “It’s friendly territory, I hope,” then added—less jocularly—“Look, I need everyone’s votes right now. I can’t lose anyone’s votes.” Rubio, his voice hoarse from campaigning, told the crowd, “I believe with all my heart that the winner of the Florida primary next Tuesday will be the nominee of the Republican Party.” He may be right, but the odds that nominee will be him look very thin.
Trump was also in Florida Tuesday evening, at his Jupiter golf club near Palm Beach, where he delivered a characteristically bizarre victory speech and press conference. He hailed retired Yankees outfielder Paul O’Neill, who was in the audience, and his endorser Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who was not, although Trump said he was. Trump promised he “could be more presidential than anyone, except the great Abe Lincoln.” He alternatingly taunted and mocked Cruz, Mitt Romney, and all the other people who had rallied around the #NeverTrump cause.
“There has never been spent more money hitting somebody than has been spent on me ... Advertising is not as important as competence,” he sniped, and then proceeded to debunk his own point by delivering a lengthy spiel—the whole thing carried live on national television, of course—advertising many of the products in his stable, from the Jupiter resort to his branded vodka to his hotels to his steaks. The last line got special attention: Trump Steaks were largely discontinued years ago, and while there were alleged specimens at the event, closer inspection showed they were purchased from a Palm Beach butcher. (Placing his name on things he didn’t build is, of course, a signature Trump real-estate technique.) Early in Trump’s campaign, his bid was derided as just a publicity ploy for his business empire; now, with the nomination within reach, he appears to be fully embracing that role. Reporters asked a few questions, but none focused on the questionable business dealings and associations that have emerged in the last few days.
Trump is right about at least one thing: “We have something special going on in the Republican Party.” He seemed set to lock up more than 40 delegates and add to his lead. With a comparably resounding win on March 15, taking Ohio and Florida, Trump could put the race nearly out of reach. Or he could stumble once more, and again give his rivals a chance to deny him the 1,237 delegates he needs to avoid a contested convention.
On the Democratic side, Sanders’s victory is more moral than material. Because Michigan’s delegates will split proportionally, Clinton will end up taking significantly more delegates on the night than Sanders, adding to her already sizeable lead. (Due to the arcana of delegate-allocation rules, she might even end up with more Michigan delegates.) But winning Michigan breathes new life into Sanders’s campaign: It helps feed his money machine, and it raises hopes that he is learning how to reach black voters—or that he can reach black voters in the North in a way he couldn’t in the South. For Clinton, the moral blow is similarly large. She’s been speaking about Flint’s lead crisis for months, going out of her way to mention it in debates and presenting herself as the protector of the state’s most vulnerable. In retrospect, however, it seems obvious that with its scars of deindustrialization, Michigan would be prime territory for Sanders.
Now both parties look ahead to March 15, with its contests in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, and Illinois. For the Democrats, it offers a mix of demographic and geographic profiles. Several of those states are winner-take-all for the Republicans, and they could either give Trump a chance to put the race out of reach or for Cruz to gain significantly.
Seeing Cruz take Idaho reminds me of a discussion I read recently between two reporters with public-television program Idaho Reports. In a blog post, they detailed the very different rallies Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz held in Idaho over the weekend, and explained how Cruz's embrace of the "outsider mantle" stood out.
"Trump has been winning as a political outsider," reporter Seth Ogilvie said. "In the Nevada caucus, a western state with a few parallels to Idaho (I’m thinking lands, water, and Second Amendment issues) six in 10 caucus-goers wanted an outsider, and the caucus went to Trump." Fast-forward a few weeks, and Cruz projected himself as an outsider on Saturday. "He mentioned federal lands and the Second Amendment, citing specific western examples, and he separated himself from the Idaho establishment."
If outsider status mattered to voters in Idaho, it seems right they'd find Cruz's recent positioning appealing, particularly over Rubio's. But it still wouldn't explain why they preferred his version of outsider to that of the original, Donald Trump.
With about half of precincts reporting, the networks project that Ted Cruz will win the Idaho Republican primary. He's currently leading there with 43 percent of the vote, with Trump following behind him at 28 percent. The Texas senator may owe his victory to the state's large Mormon population and a strong performance among rural voters. As Kasich and Rubio focus on their home states for next week, Cruz is building a solid case that he's the only candidate who can go toe-to-toe with Trump across the country.
A quick recap of the Michigan vote, according to CNN's exit polls. The expected: Sanders won young people, college graduates, and independents. Clinton had a sizable lead among black voters, as well as both the poorest and richest residents.
More interesting: Sanders fared well among non-union voters and folks who are dissatisfied or angry with the federal government. But perhaps most importantly, as noted by FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, Sanders did far better than expected among African-Americans, taking 30 percent of the vote, blowing away his showing in the Southern states. Tellingly, he's looking likely to beat Clinton in Flint, where half the residents are black, and whose struggle with lead is just the latest in a long string of economic misfortune.
Perhaps there is truth to the theory that the Sanders message can catch fire among Rust Belt voters, regardless of race, in a way that it cannot in the South.
I don't think the landline issue should have caused the Michigan discrepancy between polls and votes alone. I figure they have the weighting formulas down pretty well at this point.
The most likely cause here, unless people just changed their minds which isn't unheard of, is if the turnout demographics were significantly different from the demographic the pollsters expected to actually vote. Part of that could be explained by strategic voting against Trump, but it could also be targeted turnout efforts by some groups.
32 percent of the Idaho precincts are now in and Rubio is currently at 19 percent. He needs 20 percent to receive any of the state's 32 delegates. He’s at risk of getting no delegates in the first three contests of the night. Fortunately for Rubio, Hawaii’s caucus is fully proportional; it’d be hard for him to be entirely shut out tonight.
It's easier for political candidates to fundraise when supporters don't think it's a lost cause. Tonight's win in Michigan is likely to bring in big money for the Sanders campaign, and could boost fundraising even beyond the state victory since it will help the campaign argue that the Democratic primary remains a competitive race. The campaign is wasting no time. Two emails calling for small-dollar donations have already been sent out. The pitch? Don't count us out. "Every time the establishment underestimates us. And every time, we come back and show them they're wrong," an email signed by Bernie Sanders himself reads. "Let's keep doing it."
With a narrow win in Michigan, and a blow-out loss in Mississippi, Bernie Sanders fell further behind Hillary Clinton tonight in the race for pledged delegates. He also pulled off one of the great come-from-behind upsets in recent electoral history.
Every poll conducted in the Wolverine state showed Clinton ahead—and average of recent polls had her leading by 21 points. They’ll be scrutinized closely in the coming days, of course. Did they representatively sample the population? Include enough independent voters, in this open-primary state? Allow for a fifth of the turnout to be young voters?
Or perhaps the polls weren’t so inaccurate when they were taken. Clinton supporters might have grown complacent and stayed home, or crossed over to vote against Trump in the Republican primary. Undecided voters might have rallied to Sanders’s support, drawn by his string of caucus-state wins or something he said in the recent debate.
But it’s hard to miss the message tonight, even if the polls didn’t capture it in advance. Voters in Michigan are skeptical that free trade is working for them. They were promised creative destruction. They can see the destruction first hand; if it’s created wealth and opportunity, those benefits seem largely to have accrued elsewhere. Trump and Sanders pounded away on this point, promising to reverse the decline of American industry. And tonight, Michigan’s voters backed the candidates who promised to do what it takes to bring back American jobs.
So what really happened with Democrats in Michigan? In a couple respects, the Wolverine State shaped up well for a candidate like Bernie Sanders, who is appealing to working class voters who have not felt the benefits of the economic recovery. Opposition to free trade has been a key issue for Michigan Democrats for two decades, and that’s a strength for Sanders. He’s stressed his longstanding opposition to NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership while criticizing Clinton for waffling on both over the years.
And yet: the Democratic electorate is not nearly as white as it is in other states where Sanders has won, such as Vermont and New Hampshire. Clinton campaigned aggressively there and polls gave her a double-digit lead. Did her supporters become complacent, believing she already had the nomination in the bag? Or was there some strategic voting in a state with an open primary? The Washington Post’s David Weigel tweeted earlier on Tuesday that he had met many Democrats who were voting instead in the GOP primary to try to stop Donald Trump. There were other anecdotal reports that some Democrats actually voted for Trump on the grounds that he would be the easiest candidate for Clinton to beat in the fall. In any case, the victory for Sanders injects new life into his campaign and sounds an alarm for Clinton in the kind of state she’ll need to win in November, if not in the Democratic primary.
According to NBC's numbers, he had more than 20,000 votes up on Clinton with 95 percent of the results in, at roughly 11:35 p.m. Sanders’s victory is a surprise: Recent polling showed Clinton way ahead of Sanders, and his team had to assemble a last-minute press conference around 11 p.m. tonight so the candidate could take credit for the Michigan turnaround.
The Clinton campaign's response to Sanders' possible Michigan win? A shrug. Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri told reporters a few minutes ago that Michigan "looks a lot like" states where Sanders has done well in the past, in terms of demographics.
Palmieri: "Demographically, for the states that Senator Sanders has done well, Michigan looks a lot like that." https://t.co/6RVdYpPl8p— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) March 9, 2016
And they expect the "race will continue to be competitive through the next week."
The polls have just closed in the GOP primary in Idaho, and the race is "too early to call" between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, according to NBC News. There is no Democratic contest in Idaho tonight.
Michigan hasn't been called yet, but Sanders has already seized on the extremely close race as a vindication of his campaign. Declaring that the evening has been an "enormously successful night," Sanders claimed moral high ground in a hastily-arranged press conference convened to talk up his strong showing in Michigan so far. With 86 percent of the vote counted, Sanders holds a lead with 51 percent of the vote.
There's no guarantee that it will hold, but his lead is a big deal given that polling heading into the primary showed Clinton significantly ahead in the state. That's certainly not lost on Sanders. "What tonight means is that the Bernie Sanders campaign, the people's revolution that we are talking about, the political revolution that we are talking about, is strong in every part of the country," he said, before promising that the best is yet to come. "We're going to do very very well on the West Coast and other parts of this country," Sanders promised.
The Sanders campaign is built around the idea that an underdog can upend conventional wisdom about politics, and give the establishment a run for its money. An upset in Michigan, or even just an extremely strong showing, which Sanders may have already achieved, feeds right into that narrative.
If you feel like killing time waiting for Michigan to resolve, give Arnold Schwarzenegger's robocall for John Kasich in the Hawaii caucuses a listen. It's hilarious:
Tonight's results increase the possibility that Democrats will fight longer for nomination than Republicans.
With victories in Michigan and Mississippi, Donald Trump puts to rest—at least for now—speculation that his front-running campaign was losing steam. If he wins Florida and Ohio next week, Trump will be the presumptive GOP nominee.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton squandered an opportunity to put Bernie Sanders away with a Michigan blowout. That race is too close to call and she remains the front-runner regardless of the outcome, but Sanders is well-funded and likely buoyed by Michigan.
During his speech in Ohio, John Kasich thanked the people of Michigan where he’s fighting for second with Ted Cruz. He also vowed to continue to continue to run a positive campaign "and not get down in the gutter and throw mud at anybody.” Kasich added: “I think the people are starting to reward a positive campaign.” If the Ohio governor was disappointed about finishing second, or even falling to third, in a state where he spent much of his time, he didn’t show it. Instead, he turned his attention to his home state, where he hopes to win next week.
Following up on Molly's point, the Sanders campaign has indeed been hoping that black voters in the Midwest might be more receptive to Sanders than black voters in the South. Part of the campaign's reasoning has been that black voters in Rust Belt states might take more notice of Sanders's populist message, his promise to tackle economic inequality and vows to fight against trade deals that hurt American workers.
And another couple hundred precincts just reported for Wayne County right next to Detroit. Sanders had kept it relatively close there, but Clinton now leads 60 percent to 38 percent. Another 400 or so precincts have yet to report from there.
A big batch of votes just came in from Macomb County in Michigan, home of Detroit, and a five-point lead for Sanders has been narrowed to less than two percent. Clinton is now relying on the heavily African American electorate in Detroit to pull out a victory for her in a state where polls had shown her leading by double digits.
In his press conference, Trump again trotted out his rogue’s gallery of currency manipulators—and again, Japan was in the mix. “They’re almost as good as China,” Trump said, citing competition between Caterpillar and Komatsu, both heavy equipment manufacturers, as proof.
Yesterday, the New York Times noted that Trump’s argument appears a bit dated; While Japan was certainly considered a U.S. trade rival in the 1970s and 80s, Japan’s economy has been stuck in deflationary doldrums for two decades. Yes, the value of the yen has fallen by 40 percent against the dollar since 2012, but Japan says deflation, not American manufacturers, is the intended target.
Back in South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, Bernie Sanders's press secretary, Symone Sanders, told me black voters in the Midwest wouldn't necessarily vote like black voters in the South. Based on this surprisingly close Michigan result, that may be part of the story.
Trump wraps up on a mostly positive note. He addressed Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney, two establishment pols who've been critical of Trump, and said he thinks he could get along with the both of them. (Even if Graham said not-nice things about him on TV and Romney didn't work hard enough in 2012; Trump, of course, had to get _some_ digs in.) But he seemed to embrace the detractors in his party: "We should grab each other and we should unify the party and no one is going to beat us," Trump said, before walking off the stage.
I’m not surprised to see Republican Donald Trump win Michigan. Nor am I surprised to see Democrat Bernie Sanders fighting Hillary Clinton in a race she had expected to dominate. My home state is ground zero for economic and racial grievances, its people buffeted by globalization and social change.
Earlier today, I tried to explain here why so many Michigan residents were voting for a Democratic socialist and a GOP demagogue.
Russell mentioned earlier how Trump spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan. In addition to offering praise for the guy Tuesday night, Trump also mentioned that Ryan "was very encouraging" during their conversation. Chances are, that's a stretch: Just last week, Ryan lambasted Trump for his equivocation on the KKK. "If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry," Ryan said.
Hillary Clinton touted the race she’s been running against Bernie Sanders in comparison to the Republican race during a speech delivered from a campaign rally in Cleveland, Ohio. "I’m proud of the campaign that Senator Sanders and I are running. We have our differences which you can see when we debate,” Clinton said. “But I’ll tell you what those differences pale to what’s happening on the Republican side. Any time you think it can’t get any uglier, they find a way.”
Clinton won the Mississippi primary on Tuesday night and is locked in a tight race against Sanders in Michigan. But Clinton spent little time on that, instead pivoting to her stump speech. "I want to talk about what working families grew up against across the country get ahead and stay ahead,” she said, later pledging to tackle the lead problem everywhere and “breaking down the barriers stopping children from getting the quality education they need and deserve.” Voters in Ohio will cast their in the state’s primary votes next week.
"Hostility works for some people," Trump says. "It doesn't work for everybody." He was talking about Rubio's apparently failed attempt to take him down, but every so often, he says something that is quite true.
Trump predicts that he's going to do well in Florida, "a special place," as well as Ohio—an "amazing place." After that, he says, it's onto the general, where he expects to take on Hillary Clinton.
Nora points out that Trump has repeatedly touted his Trump steaks. Of course, that’s a brand that’s long been effectively defunct. So where did Trump get the pile of red meat he served up to supporters? Sharp-eyed observers quickly spotted the packaging, which traces to a West Palm Beach butcher shop, Bush Brothers Provision Company.
The Sharper Image still offers Trump Steaks as a “throwback” item, and charitably, perhaps they’re simply Bush Brothers steaks that get repackaged and marked up. Or perhaps it’s one more example of how Trump seems to operate beyond the usual constraints of truth and falsehood.
For the second Tuesday in a row, Donald Trump is taking a victory lap from a press conference-cum-rally in Florida. Last week, it was at Mar-a-Lago, his opulent estate in Palm Beach. Tonight, he's speaking from a Trump golf club 30 minutes away in Jupiter. He kicked off the presser by thanking the voters who've supported him and—because he couldn't help himself—noting the club's fancy, Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. The club wasn't the only Trump product he praised in the early, strange minutes of his address. He switched between addressing the election itself, name-dropping fellow politicos, and bragging about his successes—including the Trump steaks, water, and wine the campaign has on display at the club.
Trump steaks! Trump water! Trump wine! pic.twitter.com/UelGJuhKFg— Jose A. DelReal (@jdelreal) March 9, 2016
Soon enough, though, Trump got down to brass tacks: "There's only one person who did well tonight, Donald Trump. It was actually amazing. I was impressed. And even Megyn Kelly said, 'Boy, Donald Trump did well tonight."
So far it's Trump the Magnanimous in Jupiter, Florida. After castigating Mitt Romney for a week and suggesting Paul Ryan would "pay a big price" if he defied him, Trump had kind words for both of them on Tuesday night—sort of. Trump noted that he had spoken to the House speaker and called him a great guy. As for Romney, Trump didn't exactly glow over him, but his criticism was more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger. It's a notable shift for the front-runner and a possible indication that as he gets closer to the nomination, he will try to ingratiate himself with the GOP establishment to try to forestall an effort at the national convention to take the nomination away from him.
Sanders is up in the early vote count in Michigan—and he’s also ahead in the exit polls that’ve been released so far. Exit polls, though, are poor predictive tools; they’re adjusted as the votes come in to reflect the actual tallies. There are a number of urban areas, most significantly Wayne County, where few votes have been tallied, so it’s far too early to call the race just yet.
If CNN’s exit polls can’t tell us who’s winning, though, they can still offer some insight into the nature of the race. They show Clinton with a narrow edge among self-identified Democrats, but Sanders winning independents, three to one. Sanders also took 82 percent of voters under 30, who comprised a robust 21 percent of the electorate. Sanders took three out of five white voters, while Clinton took two-thirds of black voters.
Whatever the ultimate outcome, the fact that the Michigan primary is clearly much closer than polls predicted—RealClearPolitic’s average gave Clinton an average lead of 21.4 points—is sure to buoy Bernie’s supporters. Sanders has claimed, all along, that his economic message can resonate with independent voters, as it clearly did in Michigan. And he and Clinton will roughly split the state’s delegates, and that’s an outcome that was hard to imagine when the day’s voting began.
Donald Trump has been projected the winner of the Michigan primary, according to NBC, ABC, and CBS. A Monmouth University poll released earlier this week showed him ahead of his rivals in the state.
But it’s still a setback for John Kasich, whose been frequently visiting the state. As I mentioned earlier, a win for the Ohio governor would have given him a leg up moving into the Ohio primary next week, but as results go, that will not be the case.
Following on your point, Matt, just about 10 days ago the talk was about whether Kasich should get out of the race to help Rubio consolidate establishment support and take on Trump. If the results in Michigan hold up, the conversation might quickly flip entirely, especially as Kasich tries to overtake Trump in his home state of Ohio.
Of course Bernie Sanders wants to win, but it's worth pointing out that even if he loses in Michigan, an extremely close race would still help the campaign. At this point Sanders is lagging behind Hillary Clinton in the delegate count, and needs to be able to at least show he's competitive in the primary to deflect calls to drop out. If the campaign upends expectations with a stronger than predicted showing in Michigan that will fuel the campaign's narrative that there's a reason for to remain in the race. That being said, a defeat would certainly make it harder to show any kind of viable path to the nomination.
I'm starting to feel like a broken record over here, but these results are dismal for Rubio so far. The Florida senator is struggling to break into the double digits in Michigan with 17 percent of the vote in. He's also in single digits in Mississippi, but far fewer precincts have reported results there yet. If these numbers hold, he'll fall below the 15 percent viability threshold in both states and take home zero delegates from them—a grievous wound to his campaign's future.
In terms of the GOP races tonight, this from Nate Cohn and Jonathan Martin of the New York Times may be the most important paragraph of the pre-game coverage:
The outcome on Tuesday could be telling. If Mr. Trump were to replicate his Super Tuesday performance, he would take about 35 percent of the vote in Michigan and 42 percent in Mississippi. If he were to lose significant ground from last week’s vote, it could present an opening for one of his rivals.”
In other words, Trump has to win yuuuge to show that his Teflon is still intact—that the ridicule and criticism directed his way from Marco Rubio and, increasingly, the GOP establishment has had no impact. A loss or even narrow victories would suggest that, as I wrote eight days ago, the bully can be bullied.
Our colleague Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report notes that 47 percent of GOP TV ads were anti-Trump this week, up from 9 percent in early February.
It’s a close race in Michigan where Bernie Sanders is slightly ahead of Hillary Clinton. Sanders has fared well in states where white voters make up the majority, therefore positioning him for a possible win in the state’s primary. Early exit poll results indicated positive results for Sanders, as well. Six in 10 voters ranked honesty as an important issue, which has typically played in Sanders favor. Democratic primary voters also seemed to align with Sanders’s pitch on the jobs and the economy. But one thing to watch is how he’s faring among minority voters in the state; he’s struggled elsewhere, including in the night’s other contest, in Mississippi.
According to the big boards, things are looking good for Kasich: He's currently tied with Trump in Michigan. Much of that is due to his strong showing in Oakland County, home to some of Detroit's wealthiest suburbs. Kasich's strategists probably pegged it as a place where the governor could do well, full of upper-income, well-educated Midwesterners who would respond to his moderate message.
But a closer look at the results shows a different picture. Kasich is running a close second with Trump in the county, separated by a percentage point or two. Elsewhere in the state, he consistently rates third behind Cruz. If he's to have any shot of winning the state, his numbers in Oakland County are going to have to rise—fast. (A good turnout in neighboring Washtenaw County, home to the University of Michigan, wouldn't hurt either.)
Then again, they’re both outperforming Marco Rubio, who's winning a paltry 8 percent, and risks missing the threshold to qualify for delegates.
The networks have now called Mississippi for Donald Trump. As I wrote earlier, it’s an impressively sweeping victory. The thrice-married, foul-mouthed, wealthy New York real-estate developer and reality-television star carried a primary electorate in Mississippi in which 85 percent of voters described themselves as “born again” or “evangelical.”
It’s a crushing defeat for Ted Cruz’s aspirations. This was precisely the sort of state he was supposed to win. He’s not doing nearly so well tonight in the early returns in Michigan, where he’s battling Kasich for second—and that may signal he’ll struggle in the other Midwestern states that are coming up on the calendar.
Is the Republican race tightening?
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday shows a tight four-way race, with Trump at 30 percent, Cruz at 27, Kasich at 22, and Rubio at 20. (Its sample of just 397 voters produced a 4.9-point margin of error.) An ABC/Washington Post poll, meanwhile, also showed a tightening race—but put Trump at 34, Cruz at 25, Rubio at 18, and Kasich at 13.
The spread in those results is an advertisement for the virtues of polling averages. But there’s something else to start paying attention to with national polls, as well. We’re a couple dozen primaries into these nominating battles, and an ever-increasing percentage of the total sample resides in states that have already voted. Even if voters in these states change their minds, shift support away from candidate’s who’ve dropped out, or experience buyer’s remorse, it’s too late for them to alter the course of the race.
It’s another reason, if you needed one, to disregard the national numbers and focus on these races, one state at a time.
Speaking of Bernie Sanders, his campaign announced an unusual move earlier in the night as it looks ahead to the Ohio primary, which takes place on March 15th. The campaign is bringing a federal lawsuit against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Why? According to a campaign press release, the lawsuit takes aim at an "unconstitutional attempt to block young voters from casting ballots" in the primary. Ohio's Secretary of State took to Twitter on Tuesday to pushback against the allegations, saying in a statement that he welcomes the lawsuit and is "very happy to be sued on this issue because the law is crystal clear."
Some facts about voting for 17-year-olds - they can vote in the primary on nominations, not on delegates or issues. pic.twitter.com/i7pe7Eg6Wl— Jon Husted (@JonHusted) March 8, 2016
Before the first polls even closed Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders took to a Miami, Florida, stage to address a doting audience. He was on-message as usual, giving a variation of the stump speech his supporters know so well, but with new mentions, too, of his campaign's huge fundraising haul and a recent visit to Flint, Michigan. (His backers seemed so familiar with some of the speech that they seemed to quote him in real time—and they knew exactly the right moments to boo.) Sanders hit the minimum wage, Hillary Clinton's Iraq War vote, her Wall Street speeches, and climate change in a span of several minutes. Drug reform and police corruption also got the audience going. And through it all, Sanders's rallying cry for campaign finance reform rang out.
And speaking of rallying cries, Sanders specifically lobbied his Florida supporters to turn out in droves for him during next Tuesday's primary. "What the wealthy and powerful want—this is really what they want, nobody says this, this is the truth—they want young people not to participate in the political process," Sanders said, adding that they feel similarly about working-class voters. “When you have low voter turnouts, then you have billionaires buying elections and that is what we have got to overturn.” If you needed more proof that he's banking on young people to keep his campaign going, you need only check out the voters positioned immediately behind him as he spoke—row after row of mostly Millenials.
The polls closed through much of Michigan at the top of the hour, but they won’t shut on the upper peninsula until 9 p.m. eastern, so the networks aren’t yet releasing exit polls or making projections.
But precincts in municipalities where voting is over are reporting votes as they’re tallied. With about 1 percent reporting, the early tally shows Kasich and Trump virtually deadlocked, and Sanders with a narrow edge over Clinton. But it’s far, far too early for those results to have much significance. Stay tuned over the next 40 minutes; by the time the last polls closed, there should be enough actual votes tallied to have a clearer sense of how the race will turn out.
Exit polls suggest Kasich and Rubio are far behind Trump and Cruz in Mississippi. They already faced an uphill battle in winning any of the 12 delegates allocated by congressional district, since those only go to the first and second-place candidates. But if Kasich and Rubio fall below the 15 percent threshold in the statewide vote, they'll also receive none of Mississippi's 28 at-large delegates.
CNN’s exit polls in Mississippi record another dominant win by Donald Trump. He prevailed across all educational levels, from those with high school or less, to those with graduate degrees. He took every income bracket. He actually did slightly better among Republicans than among independents. He won both evangelicals and non-evangelicals, and in all three regions of the state.
One category he lost? Very conservative voters favored Ted Cruz, although both somewhat conservative voters and moderates favored Trump by huge margins. He likewise lost those to whom shared religious beliefs mattered a great deal. But Cruz’s core supporters among those groups don’t seem to have been enough to deliver the state.
Although the Mississippi GOP race hasn't been called yet, exit polls give Trump a significant lead, and the networks may be exercising caution after what happened Saturday in Louisiana, where Trump had a big lead in the early vote but Cruz nearly closed the gap on Election Day.
As expected, Hillary Clinton has won the Mississippi Democratic primary, according to multiple network calls as soon as the polls closed at 8 p.m. Eastern. Exit polls showed that more than six in 10 Mississippi Democrats voting on Tuesday were African American, which was as good an indication as any that Clinton would win the state. Her strong support among African Americans has helped her sweep the Southern states so far.
The Republican race is "too early to call," NBC says, and the two front-runners, as expected, are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Note that doesn't necessarily mean the race will be close. John Kasich and Marco Rubio lag far behind, according to the network forecasters.
In the Republican primaries to date, Donald Trump has consistently drawn his strongest support from white voters without college degrees. Tonight’s first two states would seem to be ideal ground for him; conversely, if he struggles here, it may be a sign that he’s slipping nationally:
College grads - GOP— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) March 9, 2016
Average pre-tonight 53%
Throughout the campaign, candidates have jumped at the chance to declare moral victories, giving their speeches before the actual winners can take the stage. Tonight, Sanders commenced speaking before the polls had closed in any state, and Rubio will shortly follow suit:
Rubio expected to take the stage in Florida at 7:45 p.m. EST - 15 minutes before polls close in MI and MS— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 9, 2016
When candidates think their message is best heard before it’s clouded by the actual results, it’s rarely a hopeful sign.
I’ve idly wondered how Kasich will perform in Michigan, given the number of my Michigan relatives who seem to detest Ohio. I’ve heard them describe their southern neighbor as "ugly," "smelly,” and, most damning of all, "boring." (Incidentally, those same adjectives my friends in Pennsylvania use to describe New Jersey.)
But they may be in the minority! A 2015 Public Policy Polling survey showed that only 30 percent of Michganders have an unfavorable opinion of Ohio, though another 30 percent weren't sure. I'd note, however, that the very same survey showed the vast majority of residents strongly believed Michigan got the better end of the 19th-century compromise that ceded Toledo to the Buckeye State in return for Upper Peninsula, an outright rejection of Ohio values if I ever saw one.
On the Republican front, Marco Rubio appears to be doing poorly among late deciders in Michigan, trailing far behind John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.
EXIT POLLS: Marco Rubio not doing well with late deciders in Michigan. John Kasich fares the best: pic.twitter.com/57GAV2VLfH— Shepard Smith (@ShepNewsTeam) March 8, 2016
Although that’s unwelcome news, it’s likely not too surprising for Rubio, who has been lagging in the polls in Michigan.
So far, the Florida senator has won two states in the presidential primary—Minnesota and Puerto Rico—as he looks toward his home state for a boost toward the nomination. Still this isn’t likely to fare well for the campaign’s electability pitch, particularly ahead of this week’s Republican debate.
What is the Clinton campaign’s strategy for the expectations game tonight? On CNN, campaign manager Robby Mook said the Clinton team expected the results to be closer than public polls have suggested. But spokesman Brian Fallon seems a bit cockier here:
I had a little chuckle about this tweet quoting John Kasich:
Kasich in CNN interview a few minutes ago: '"If I spend any more time in Michigan, I have to start paying taxes"— Steve Brusk (@stevebruskCNN) March 8, 2016
I figured it was just the Ohio governor bein’ folksy about his Midwestern neighbor to the north.
Then I looked up his travel records, as tabulated by National Journal—and holy cow. He’s been to Michigan at least 10 times over the course of this campaign, more than any other candidate of either party by a long shot. Just yesterday, he visited three towns in the Detroit area, hosting town halls and attending a dinner.
The only state where he spent more time was New Hampshire—where he edged out the front-runners to grab second place.
As Nora earlier noted, Bernie Sanders is hoping to be tonight’s victor in the Michigan primary. The polls don’t close until 8 p.m. eastern, but early exit poll results appear to play into Sanders’s pitch on jobs and the economy. Ahead of the state’s primary, the Vermont senator stepped up attacks against Hillary Clinton on free trade, which he says is to blame for eliminating jobs. In Mississippi, 43 percent of Democratic primary voters believe foreign trade takes away jobs, as do 56 percent in Michigan, according to CBS News’s exit polling data. Democratic voters in both states also cited the economy as a top issue. It remains to be seen, though, whether that will actually help Sanders close the gap.
The Republican candidates are mostly focused on strategically preventing Trump from amassing an outright majority of delegates before the convention. But on the Democratic side, it's still a slugfest for who can take home the biggest haul. Here's a look at the delegate math for Clinton and Sanders in both of tonight's primaries:
Michigan: With 147 delegates at stake, Michigan's primary is one of the most important contests yet for Clinton and Sanders. But the state's dual-track system for allocating delegates will likely prevent either candidate from taking home an overwhelming share of them. Only 45 delegates are awarded based on the statewide vote. (There's a 15 percent viability threshold, but the two-candidate race makes it effectively irrelevant.) The remaining 85 delegates are awarded from within each of Michigan's fourteen congressional districts, with between five and nine delegates up for grabs in each district.
Because the district-based delegates are also allocated proportionally, Clinton and Sanders need to maximize their margins in the districts where they do best while staying competitive in the districts where they don't. The two key districts to watch tonight are Michigan's 13th and 14th congressional districts, which encompass most of Detroit and are worth nine delegates apiece. The beleaguered city of Flint, which hosted a Democratic debate on Sunday, is located in the state's 5th congressional district.
Mississippi: A two-track delegate system also complicates how tonight's primary will award Mississippi's 36 delegates. Only 13 delegates are proportionally allocated by the statewide total. The remaining 23 delegates are unevenly divided among the state's four congressional districts. The 1st, 3rd, and 4th district offer four or five delegates each. But in the 2nd district, which encompasses Jackson and the surrounding areas, nine delegates are at stake.
That's good news for Clinton. Her commanding majorities throughout the South so far—77 percent in Alabama, 71 percent in Georgia and Louisiana, and 64 percent in Virginia—helped her build a substantial delegate lead over Sanders nationwide. Those victories hinged on the overwhelming support of black voters, who make up about two-thirds of the 2nd district's population. Recent polls show Clinton on track to win a similar victory overall in Mississippi tonight. But Sanders could soften the delegate blow if he avoids dropping below the 15 percent viability threshold in all four congressional districts.
Looks like Donald Trump has learned his lesson about insulting a primary state's signature crop. KTVB, a Boise NBC affiliate, spoke with the mogul this morning, and he previewed what his message to Idaho voters will be if he takes the state. “I'll never forget you,” Trump said. “And I'll continue to eat your potatoes—which I'll do anyway because they're the greatest in the world—and we're going to make sure we protect that.” It's not just potatoes getting love from Trump as he tries to snag four states today: The Wall Street Journal notes that he's similarly fond of Hawaii's hotels and Michigan's cars. It's less clear, however, precisely what he adores about Mississippi.
As Yoni noted, some people in Mississippi are reporting “slow” turnout at the polls. That’s hardly enough to make a prediction, but it is worth noting that this year we are getting our first glimpse of presidential primaries and elections with state voter-ID laws passed since a 2013 Supreme Court decision struck down preclearance on all elections decisions for states with a history of discrimination. Mississippi is one of those states.
As my colleague Brentin Mock wrote, several states are having their first presidential elections with new voter-ID laws after the fall of preclearance. Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia all debuted new ID laws on Super Tuesday, and some voters in February’s local elections in Wisconsin reported problems that might resurface in the state’s April primaries. As early voting in North Carolina is already underway for its March 15 primaries, voters must grapple with a maze of changes that mandate ID but offer some alternate pathways for voters with “reasonable impediments.”
Some voter-ID laws are still under judicial review and some other voting changes, such as North Carolina’s removal of same-day voting, have not yet been implemented, so it’s difficult to make any inferences on the basis of the primary elections, and difficult to assess the impact of these changes. Primary turnout might have limited utility in predicting general-election turnout, anyways. But grassroots organizers and campaign teams can see now if any voter-ID-related cracks are emerging in their registration efforts.
There are 1,849,079 active registered votes in Mississippi, but only a small fraction of them will head to the polls in Tuesday’s election. In 2012, 294,112 voters cast ballots in the Republican primary—and just 97,304 in the uncontested Democratic race. (There were other races down the ballot that year to draw them to the polls.)
There are some indications that turnout will be higher this year. As of Monday night, voters requested 21,195 absentee ballots, according to Anna Moak, a staff attorney in the Mississippi secretary of state’s office. That’s up more than 50 percent from the 2012 primary, when just 13,920 were requested.
On the other hand, anecdotal evidence filtering in from around the state don’t report the same long lines or unusual turnout that primary elections have drawn in other states this year. The Jackson Clarion Ledger checked in with three polling places, where workers described turnout as “steady,” “light to medium,” and “slow.” In three coastal counties, the SunHerald reports, county clerks were more encouraged, calling turnout “good” in the morning before it “slowed down,” “fair,” and “strong.” In Greenville, according to the Delta Democrat-Times, it’s been “slim.” It was the same story in the Pine Belt, where the Hattiesburg American quoted one official describing turnout as light, while another said, “It's steady, but not what we expected."
If fewer voters show up than expected, it’s unlikely to alter the Democratic race, where the sole recent poll shows Clinton with an enormous lead. Its impact on the Republican side is more difficult to predict—that same poll showed Cruz and Rubio hovering right at the threshold for obtaining delegates. Those campaigns might take this as a heartening sign; they’ve often fared proportionately better in contests with fewer voters.
There’s still lots of time today for turnout to increase. But the state is already moving ahead on reforms that might draw more voters to the polls. A new package of voting reforms, championed by Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, might substantially expand access. The measures include opening a 14-day window for early voting, and allowing online registration. They passed the state’s House of Representatives last week, and are now before the Senate, which has promised to take up the reforms. Hosemann has also called on legislators to move the primary to Super Tuesday, to enhance its profile and impact.
As we get further into the primary calendar, the delegate allocation math for each state becomes even more important. Here's a quick breakdown of the math for tonight's Republican races.
Hawaii: Only 19 delegates are at stake in tonight's caucus, but what Hawaii lacks in volume, it makes up for in complexity. Ten of them are proportionally allocated based on the statewide vote. Another six delegates are proportionally allocated based on the votes from within Hawaii's two congressional districts, with three delegates available from each district. The final three delegates are three state party officials, including the Hawaii Republican Party chair and national committee members.
Idaho: Tonight's primary allocates all 32 delegates proportionally. Candidates who don't receive at least 20 percent of the vote receive no delegates. If a candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, he receives all 32 delegates and his rivals receive none. This could make the state a lucrative target, but the four-candidate race still makes a blowout unlikely here. The most recent poll, taken in mid-February, had Trump at 30 percent and Cruz at 19 percent.
Michigan: With 59 delegates at stake, Michigan's primary offers the largest haul of delegates in Tuesday's races. Like Idaho, a candidate who receives over 50 percent of Michgan's vote could win all the delegates. But recent polls point to a more fractured outcome, making that scenario unlikely. Instead, the four candidates will battle it out for a proportional share of the delegate slate. Those who fall below the 15 percent threshold will go home empty-handed.
Mississippi: The Magnolia State offers 40 delegates and two paths to get them in tonight's primary. First, 28 delegates are divided up based on the statewide results, with candidates who fall below the 15 percent threshold receiving none. The remaining 12 delegates are split between the state's four congressional districts. Candidates who receive more than 50 percent of the vote in a district win all three delegates. If nobody reaches 50 percent, the first-place candidate gets two delegates and the second-place challenger gets one.
As Clare has mentioned, Bernie Sanders is hoping a win in Michigan can take some wind out of Hillary Clinton's sails. They're counting on the same voting blocs they've banked on in other states: She remains strong with African Americans and older voters, who make up significant chunks of the state's population, while he's got a loyal constituency in young people. “The only antidote, the only way to make change together is when millions of people ... when we stand together,” Sanders told a crowd at Michigan State University in East Lansing last week.
But he may face some trouble with turnout: Sanders' "strongest" constituency "is 18-to-29-year-old voters, with a special focus on college voters," a Michigan pollster recently told Politico. But "on Tuesday the vast majority of the Michigan State students will be in Florida or the Bahamas, on spring break. So unless they were smart enough to get an absentee ballot I don’t think he’s going to get that bump." Western Michigan and Central Michigan Universities are also on vacation this week; Sanders, it seems, just can’t catch a break.
It's the battle of the '80s action stars: Days after former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed John Kasich on Snapchat, the Cruz campaign announced late Monday that Chuck Norris will be campaigning with Cruz this upcoming weekend. It's not clear whether a formal endorsement is coming, but I'd bet on it. Norris previously supported Mike Huckabee, who shares Cruz’s social conservatism and support among evangelicals. In May, Norris told The New York Times that Huck had the "moral clarity and experience to lead our great country forward." We'll see if he has similarly effusive praise for Cruz. In the meantime: Steven Seagal, you're up.
Voters in Michigan might hear from Mitt Romney today. The former Republican presidential nominee recorded a robocall encouraging voters to head to the polls and cast their ballot for John Kasich in an effort to stop Donald Trump. “Hello, this is Mitt Romney calling, and I'm calling on behalf of Kasich for America,” the recording says. “Today, you have the opportunity in Michigan to vote for a Republican nominee for president. These are critical times that demand a serious, thoughtful commander in chief.” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told ABC News that the calls, which were paid for by Kasich’s campaign, were released this morning.
Last week, Romney denounced the real-estate mogul, calling him a “phony.” As my colleague Nora Kelly notes, it’s unclear how effective Romney’s effort will be. But Romney has personal ties to Michigan. He was born and raised in the state, and is also the son of a former governor of Michigan, George Romney. Mitt Romney won the state’s primary in 2012. He has also recorded calls for Marco Rubio, but has not endorsed any candidate in the race.
The Michigan primary is likely to garner the most attention today since it's the state where the most delegates are up for grabs for both Democrats and Republicans. On the Democratic side, 147 delegates are at stake, a total that Bernie Sanders's campaign wants to win, to narrow the gap with Hillary Clinton, who currently holds a commanding lead in the delegate count. Clinton and Sanders have both been making a populist economic pitch to Michigan voters in the days leading up to the primary. Sanders hopes that his long-time opposition to trade deals that he claims have "decimated" the state will endear him to residents. Pre-election polls, though, show Clinton with a solid lead.
Michigan would be a painful state for the self-described Democratic socialist to lose. Sanders has vowed to stay in the race and make his voice heard. But if he can't win Michigan, it will be that much harder for his campaign to argue that he still has a viable path to the presidential nomination.
John Kasich has a lot riding on Michigan today. The Ohio governor has frequently visited the state in the last few weeks. According to the Detroit Free Press, he is the Republican presidential candidate who has spent the most time in the state.
His hope? That Michigan can give him a leg up going into the Ohio primary on March 15. Polls in Michigan show Kasich trailing behind Donald Trump, and in a tight race for second against Ted Cruz. But much relies on voter turnout, which has dropped significantly in primary elections, from 47 percent in 1972 to 21 percent in 2008. Here, Trump may have an advantage, if he succeeds at mobilizing voters as he’s appeared to have done in other states.
Whatever the outcome, Kasich has pledged to stay in the race until Ohio. “Do I want to do well in Michigan? Of course I do,” he said this past week. “I’m going to Ohio, O.K.? Let’s not be confused. And I’m going to win Ohio. End of story.”
The polls are now open in Michigan, and will open in Mississippi in another thirty minutes. Both states are holding both Republican and Democratic presidential primaries on Tuesday. Voting in both states ends at the same time—7 p.m. central in Mississippi, and 8 p.m. eastern in the Wolverine state.
Voting in Idaho runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time—which is to say, until 11 p.m. eastern. Tuesday’s final contest is the Republican caucus in Hawaii, which also ends at 8 p.m.—but that’ll be 1 a.m. on Wednesday on the east coast of the United States.
Michigan offers the biggest cache of delegates in both races. In theory, the rust-belt state offers Bernie Sanders an unusually good shot at adding a big state to his column, but polling has shown consistent leads for Hillary Clinton. On the Republican side, Donald Trump has been polling strongly—but polls overstated his support in Saturday’s contests. Ted Cruz surged into second nationally on the strength of his support in Southern states, but this is less-favorable terrain for the staunch conservative. He’s locked in a tight battle with John Kasich, governor of the adjacent state of Ohio. Marco Rubio trails in a distant fourth; polls suggest he may not garner the 15 percent support necessary to win some of the state’s 59 delegates. There hasn’t been much polling in Mississippi, but one poll taken in recent weeks shows a huge Trump lead, with the other three candidates all struggling to clear the 15 percent threshold.
Welcome to another (slightly less) Super Tuesday in 2016, as Republicans head to the polls in four states and Democrats in two.
The big prize for each party is the Michigan primary, which will test the strength of front-runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Most recent polls have given Trump a double-digit lead in a state where his criticism of trade deals should play well. But polls in some states have tended to overstate Trump’s advantage—most recently in Louisiana, where a surge of support for Ted Cruz on Saturday nearly closed a 24-point gap in early voting. In Michigan, Trump’s biggest threat may be John Kasich, the governor of nearby Ohio who could be making his final stand over the next week leading into the Buckeye State’s primary on March 15.
Surveys show Marco Rubio struggling in Michigan while Ted Cruz hopes to narrow Trump’s delegate lead. Republicans will be battling for a total of 150 delegates on Tuesday in Mississippi and Idaho primaries and a caucus in Idaho. The contests are merely a prelude, however, to what is expected to be a turning point in the race next Tuesday, when Kasich and Rubio try to win their home states of Ohio and Florida or face withdrawing from the race. If Trump holds them off, the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination will become nearly attainable.
On the Democratic side, polls show Clinton holding what should be a comfortable lead over Bernie Sanders in Michigan despite the Vermont senator’s attacks on her past support for trade agreements like NAFTA. The two Democrats engaged in a feisty debate Sunday in Flint, during which Clinton criticized Sanders for voting against auto-bailout legislation in 2008. She is expected to win by a wide margin in Mississippi, as she has throughout the South. Sanders has managed to win enough smaller states to hang around in the Democratic primary, but Clinton’s goal now is to build up an insurmountable delegate lead, and barring a surprise, the results tonight should help her continue on her way.