A potentially 'huuuuge' victory.
Though expectations were met as Hillary Clinton claimed a win by large margin in the Mississippi primary, the big story of Tuesday's two Democratic primaries is that Bernie Sanders has achieved an "upset of almost unheard of proportions" by claiming victory in the bellwether state of Michigan.
Just after 11:30 p.m., NBC News declared it was "projecting" the win for Sanders, and at 7 a.m. returns showed him leading Clinton by 20,000 votes with more than 97% of precincts reporting. Michigan has 147 delegates, which will be divided proportionally between the two candidates.
"I want to thank the people of Michigan," Sanders declared in a brief television interview just after 11 PM. "Tonight, I think the people of Michigan stood up to the pundits. They stood up to the Establishment. They stood up to the pollsters. And they said they want an economy that works for all of us, and not just the people on top."
In a campaign email shortly after, Sanders declared the victory in Michigan as significant:
The results are in and we were just declared the winner in a very important state for our campaign: Michigan. That’s a major, game-changing victory for our campaign.
The corporate media counted us out. The pollsters said we were way behind. The Clinton super PACs spent millions against us across the country. We were hit with a dishonest attack in the debate. But we won, again… and if we continue to stand together, we can win this nomination.
Appearing on MSNBC as it was becoming clear that Sanders was on the verge of victory, Nina Turner, former State Senator of Ohio and a campaign surrogate, said the win proves Bernie has a winning agenda that Democratic voters are responding to and ready to support. "It really does show that his honesty and his consistency is really taken hold in the state of Michigan," Turner said.
"He was about twenty percent down last week and in July about fifty points, so he is really closing the lead," she continued. "And the more people hear his message—his righteous indignation for the working class and poor in this nation—and the way that he fought over bad trade deals that took away manufacturing jobs both in Michigan and in Ohio, people are really starting to hear his message."
Asked about the implications of the Michigan win and moving forward, Turner said the campaign's eyes are now on other midwestern states such as her own, but also larger states like California and New York later in the primary calendar. "The more that people see he has been consistent—that he doesn't change his message based on polling, that he doesn't change his message depending on what audience he's talking to—he has been a champion of the everyday people and it is starting to resonate."
Ahead of the official call, Sanders delivered a brief statement to television cameras just before 11:00 PM ET.
"We believe our strongest areas are yet to happen," said Sanders during "We're going to do very, very well on the West Coast and other parts of this country. What the American people are saying is that they are tired of a corrupt campaign finance system and super PAC's funded by Wall Street and the billionaire class. They are tired of a rigged economy in which people in Michigan, people in Illinois, people in Ohio are working longer hours for lower wages; are worried to death about the future of their kids, and yet all new income and wealth is going to the top one percent. And the people of America are tired of a broken criminal justice system in which we have more people in jail--largely African American, Latino, and Native American--than any other major country on Earth.
"When we started this campaign," Sanders continued, "we were sixty or seventy points down in the polls. And yet what we have seen—in poll after poll; state after state—what we have done is create the kind of momentum that we need to win. So once again, this has been a fantastic night. In Michigan we are so grateful for all the support we have gotten and we look forward to going to Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and the other upcoming states that we will be competing in next week."