2020 Battleground Michigan: A key test for Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden to take on Trump
Michigan is the most competitive of the six states that are set to hold nominating contests on Tuesday. This state will make it clear that who, out of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, will battle Donald Trump in November 2020 presidential election.
Michigan is the most competitive of the six states that are set to hold nominating contests on Tuesday as it has the largest numbers of delegates at stake – 125. For left-wing Senator Bernie Sanders to remain competitive with Joe Biden, a centrist, in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, he will have to repeat what he did four years ago: Win the Michigan primary.
But it seems that this time it probably will be harder.
The current status of Joe Biden:
Ahead of Tuesday's vote, Biden, 77, is showing strength with the same kinds of voters that Vermont Senator Sanders relied upon in his surprise defeat of front-runner Hillary Clinton in the state in 2016. He seized control of the race (for White House) on Super Tuesday last week, winning a bevy of Southern states as well as Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas and causing rivals Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bloomberg to drop out. The former Vice-President had won the support of 10 of the 14 states that voted last week.
Joe Biden also got a boost on Sunday with an endorsement from Senator Kamala Harris of California. The former 2020 Democratic rival will campaign with him on Monday night in Detroit.
“There is no one better prepared than Joe to steer our nation through these turbulent times, and restore truth, honor, and decency to the Oval Office. He is kind and endlessly caring, and he truly listens to the American people,” Harris said in a statement.
.@JoeBiden has served our country with dignity and we need him now more than ever. I will do everything in my power to help elect him the next President of the United States. pic.twitter.com/DbB2fGWpaa— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) March 8, 2020
Biden had earlier said he would consider Harris as a potential running mate after she dropped out of the race in December.
In total, nine former contenders, including former top-tier candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Harris have endorsed Biden. The other seven are: Former New City Mayor Bloomberg, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan.
The current status of Bernie Sanders:
Bernie Sanders goes into Michigan badly in need of a win after his rival Biden’s stellar performance last week. The 78-year-old Senator, however, won the backing of US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson who endorsed him on Sunday, saying that Sanders' progressive social and economic policies would give black Americans "the best chance to catch up".
Sanders expects success in the Michigan primary and said that that success would extend to the general election.
“Joe Biden voted for the war in Iraq, I voted against it… Joe Biden voted for disastrous trade agreements like NAFTA and the Pacific Rim Trade Agreement with China, I voted against them. Joe Biden has been on the floor of the Senate over the years, talking about the need to cut Social Security. I have spent my life fighting to protect Social Security and want to expand it. Joe Biden is now raising substantial sums of money from billionaires with 60 billionaires contributing to his campaign. We raise our funds from the grassroots, from working families, that's a big difference. I think when people take a look at those records, they're going to come over to us,” he said.
Predicting his win, the senator said: “I feel good about the momentum we have. I think we are going to do well on Tuesday and beat Biden. You know, last time, as you indicated, it was seen as a big upset because polling had us down literally 20 points one day to the election.”
Currently, Sanders has also the endorsements of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and self-help guru Marianne Williamson. Also, Justice Democrats -- the left-wing organization that recruited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to run for Congress in 2018 -- is endorsing the Vermont Senator.
Michigan offers the largest number (125) of the minimum 1,991 delegates a candidate needs to secure the nomination outright. A victory in the state is critical for Sanders to recapture momentum before the contest shifts to Florida and Illinois the following week. In addition to Michigan, Washington state, Mississippi, Missouri and Idaho will be holding primary elections on Tuesday. North Dakota will hold caucuses.
Sanders' loss in Michigan could give Biden an insurmountable lead as the state-by-state nominating process moves into friendly territory for the man best remembered as No. 2 in President Barack Obama's administration.
The state also greatly matters for November 3 general election. It flipped Republican in 2016, voting for Republican Donald Trump over Clinton by just over 10,000 votes, helping Trump capture the White House.
According to exit polls from Edison Research, Biden parlayed his popularity with black voters into huge gains on Super Tuesday, winning 70% of African-American voters in Alabama and Virginia and 60% in North Carolina and Texas. They will be crucial in Michigan, where they comprise almost 14% of the population. Some areas of Detroit are 80% African-American.
Sanders cancelled plans to campaign in Mississippi this weekend, focusing instead on Michigan.
Sanders may have better luck with union voters in manufacturing-heavy Michigan. He won the state's white working-class voters in 2016, and they remain a reliable part of his base.
But Biden has longstanding ties to labour unions and routinely talks about how the middle-class and union members built the nation.
The powerful United Auto Workers Union has yet to endorse any candidate, but its spokesman, Brian Rothenberg, said it supports the idea of universal healthcare. Sanders has made a government-run healthcare system, Medicare for All, the heart of his campaign.
Not all of Sanders' positions play well with the state's unions, though. In particular, he has called for the closure of a 66-year-old crude oil pipeline that runs below portions of the Great Lakes, as part of his sweeping plan to swiftly end the US fossil fuel economy to fight climate change.
And two Michigan chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union endorsed Biden last week.
Sanders is running ads in Michigan criticizing Biden over his past support for global trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Biden, in turn, argues that he was a key player in the 2009 auto industry bailout that rescued jobs in the state.
In 2016, Sanders performed surprisingly well in the wealthy suburbs outside Detroit and blew Clinton away in rural counties. But there is evidence he won’t do that again this time.
On Super Tuesday, Biden consistently beat Sanders in suburbs outside of cities including Charlotte, North Carolina, and Houston.
And in rural regions of Minnesota, a Midwestern state like Michigan with a largely white population, Biden smashed Sanders, 43% to 19%, according to exit polls.