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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

March 8 Primaries: Clinton Wins More Delegates Despite Sanders Michigan Upset

Hillary Clinton won the most delegates for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday, adding 84, compared with a net gain of 67 for Sanders. Clinton now has 1,234 of the 2,383 delegates needed to win the nomination, while Sanders has 567 delegates.
Clinton won an 83-17 percent blowout in Mississippi, but Sanders won an upset victory in delegate-rich Michigan, where “every poll leading up to Tuesday’s election showed Clinton with a double-digit lead and a vast institutional edge with African-American voters,” report Todd Spangler and Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press.
CNN’s exit polls provided one clear indication of why Sanders won — an amazing 81%-18% edge among 18-24 year-old voters.
“Sanders also did well among black voters under the age of 45 in Michigan, splitting their support with Clinton — however Clinton performed well with older black voters, winning roughly 8 in 10,” note Tom LoBianco and Jennifer Agiesta of CNNPolitics.
Exit polls reveal that In Michigan, nearly 7 of 10 Democratic voters were white, while about 2 in 10 were African American. In Mississippi, however, only one-third of voters were white and more than 6 in 10 were black voters. It’s unclear, however, whether the African American voter turnout percentage was higher or lower than in previous years in MI.
While Clinton attacked Sanders for failing to vote on one occasion for funding of the auto bailout in the wake of the Bush economic meltdown, Sanders may have benefitted more from well-crafted economic messaging. He argued, for example that she had supported trade deals which exported Michigan jobs. Further, “CNN exit polls showed that Sanders outperformed Clinton among voters who are “very worried” about the U.S. economy, 56% to 40%. Among voters who believe international trade takes away American jobs, Sanders also led Clinton, 56% to 43% — a sign that Sanders’ populist economic message resonated in Michigan,” according to MJ Lee, Jeff Zeleny, Dana Bash and Dan Merica at CNN Politics.
At WaPo’s The Daily 202, James Hohman explains,

A message of economic populism, particularly protectionism, is much more potent in the Rust Belt than we understood.
Most Michiganders feel like they are victims of trade deals, going back to NAFTA under Bill Clinton, and they’re deeply suspicious of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Outsourcing has helped hollow out the state’s once mighty manufacturing core…Trump and Sanders both successfully tapped into this.
Six in 10 Michigan Democratic primary voters said international trade takes away U.S. jobs, and Sanders won these voters by roughly 20 points, according to preliminary exit poll data reported by CNN. Only 3 in 10 thought trade creates jobs; Clinton won that group…One-third of voters said Clinton is too pro-business. Sanders won more than four in five of them.

Another dramatic difference between Clinton and Sanders voters: Those who said their “most important priority” is that a candidate is honest and trustworthy voted for Sanders over Clinton by a gaping margin of 80% to 19%.
Another possible clue, Sanders was, ironically, the big Democratic spender in Michigan, pouring $3.5 million into ads, while Clinton spent only $2.6 million. There were also complaints that Clinton didn’t campaign as hard in MI, as she did in NV and SC.
Clinton edged Sanders in Michigan’s emblematically white working-class Macomb County by a margin of 48.8 percent to 47.41, according to the Detroit Free Press. Trump received 60,492 votes in Macomb, compared to Clinton’s 47,597 and 46,242 for Sanders. Given Sanders’s strong turnout among younger voters, it would be interesting to know if they also made him competitive with white working-class voters.
Republican presidential candidates received 124,896 votes in Macomb, compared to 97,528 for Democratic candidates.

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