Bernie Sanders Just Staged One of the Biggest Upsets in Primary History

March 9th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Democratic socialist from Vermont, pulled off an unexpected win in the Michigan primary on Tuesday night.

In perhaps his biggest win yet, Sanders took 50.1 percent of the vote, while Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who was expected to take the Rust Belt state by double digits, received 48 percent (at the time of publication), according to the New York Times.

Sanders wins Michigan

Sanders' performance was a major upset for the Clinton campaign, whose victory in Michigan was expected to deliver a blow to Sanders' chances for the presidency — given that many of the issues on which the Sanders campaign hinges resonate strongly with voters in the industrial state.

"We are in the midst of a very tight race," a somewhat baffled Sanders said in an impromptu speech in Florida before the results were called.

"What tonight means it 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,” he said.

The win marks a milestone for Sanders, and breathes fresh air into his presidential campaign. Michigan, where Clinton had led the polls in the run up to Tuesday's vote, is a hotbed for issues like "unfair" trade agreements, a "rigged economy," and income inequality — all issues championed by Sanders in a Democratic debate on Sunday night in the city of Flint. The state also contains a large population of Black voters, who have largely been thought to support Clinton, however, it is too soon to know if Black voters propelled sanders to victory.

The victory gives the campaign proof that it has the chance to win over racially diverse states that will be crucial in the general election, the New York Times notes.

Clinton, however, still leads in the delegate count with 1,215 to Sanders' 566, and the former Secretary of State took home a win in Mississippi on Tuesday night.