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Biden Wins Michigan, Deals Blow To Sanders

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Michigan helped push former Vice President Joe Biden closer to the Democratic nomination Tuesday with a decisive win over Senator Bernie Sanders.  For Sanders, this was a stark and bitter change from four years ago, when Michigan resurrected his faltering campaign for president.  Rick Pluta has more.

Four years ago, Bernie Sanders connected with Michigan Democrats looking to push their party to the left. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton narrowly lost the Michigan primary to Sanders, but went on to win the Democratic nomination.  And then she lost Michigan – again by a narrow margin – to Donald Trump in November.  History did not repeat itself.  At least not in the primary.  Former Vice President Joe Biden won the state in a blowout.

“Let’s go, Joe! Let’s go, Joe! Let’s go, Joe….

His early lead in voter-rich metro Detroit was so big so early that polls were closed barely an hour before news organizations called it for Biden.


Former Governor Jim Blanchard says Democrats are focused this year on who’s most electable, and, to him, at least, that’s a centrist Democrat who can also appeal to independents and even some Republicans

“They will not vote for Bernie Sanders. They’re not happy with Trump. And so the independents, moderate Republicans, and most Democrats will vote for Joe Biden, and we will carry Michigan.”

But Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib says, despite Biden’s mounting victories and the convention delegates that go with them, Sanders should hang in -- at least through the next debate and the next round of primaries.

“It’s very inspiring and so motivating that you have someone who is really speaking about every single issue that that a lot of us have been seeing not move in this country and he’s saying that there’s a pathway and there’s a way to do it. And that’s through our people movement that he’s been pushing forward all over the country.”

But Tlaib says she will support the Democratic nominee, regardless of who that is, because she wants President Trump gone. Trump and three other Republicans appeared on the GOP primary ballot.  It was no surprise that Trump easily won with over 90 percent of the vote.  Turnout was big – closer to what would be expected in a general election than in a primary, says Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

“Also, I think this reflects the significant amount of interest that young voters have had in our election today. First-time voters, as well. And that’s a great thing.”

And there were some new twists.  There’s a state law that now makes it easier for voters to cast absentee ballots.  In fact, Benson says twice as many absentee ballots were requested this year than in the 2016 primary.  Benson says the system appears to have survived its first real-life stress test. 

“So we’re saying this with the caution that it’s great where there were successes today, we’re really happy about that, but this is also about informing our preparation for November, and that’s where a lot of my focus is going to b e now moving forward.”

The campaigns are also moving forward with the primary season drawing to a close.  Democrats and Republicans will focus now on how to win Michigan in November.  Trump won the state by just a fraction of a percentage point in 2016.

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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