Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) recorded an unexpected and crucial primary win in Michigan Tuesday night after polls consistently showed him trailing Hillary Clinton among Democratic voters there.
The race was called in favor of Sanders late Tuesday night, multiple networks declaring him the winner. Sanders was winning 50 percent of the vote with nearly 100 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, while Clinton followed him closely behind with 48 percent.
For hours after polls closed, the Michigan primary was deemed too close to call.
Sanders delivered brief remarks on the race in Michigan before it was called, thanking supporters and pointing out that recent polls out of the state had showed Clinton leading him among Democratic primary voters.
“What tonight means is the Bernie Sanders campaign, the people’s revolution, the political 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,” Sanders said.
Clinton did come away with a win on Tuesday; she was projected the winner of the Mississippi Democratic primary earlier in the night, multiple networks declaring her the winner immediately after polls closed at 8 P.M. EST.
Primaries in Michigan and Mississippi presented an opportunity for Clinton to establish her lead over Sanders and, alternatively, for Sanders to make a comeback after some significant losses to his opponent.
While the Vermont senator recorded wins in Nebraska and Maine over the weekend, Clinton came away with a victory in Louisiana, expanding her delegate lead over Sanders. Clinton was also the big winner on Super Tuesday, winning seven states, including Texas, Georgia, and Virginia.
While Clinton has long been viewed as the likely Democratic nominee, she has faced an unexpectedly strong challenge from Sanders, who enjoys substantial support among younger voters. Despite recent primary losses to Clinton, Sanders has vowed to remain in the race.
Throughout her campaign, Clinton has been forced to confront controversy surrounding her use of private email at the State Department, a matter that has spurred an FBI investigation. While Clinton has dismissed the probe as a “security review,” reports last week indicated that the investigation had turned criminal.
Recently, the Justice Department granted immunity to the former State Department staffer who set up Clinton’s private server in her New York home in 2009 and the former aide, Bryan Pagliano, is now cooperating with the FBI.
Clinton’s poll numbers and approval ratings have taken a hit as the controversy surrounding her email use—first reported more than a year ago—has continued to unfold.
At the heart of the debate is whether Clinton put national security in danger by using private, unsecured email to conduct government business. While Clinton has repeated that she never sent nor received information that was classified at the time, the federal government has determined that thousands of messages on her server contain classified material.
Clinton’s national lead over Sanders has wavered over a period of months, though the former secretary of state still maintains a seven-point edge over her competitor, according to a ABC News/Washington Post poll released ahead of Tuesday’s results.
The Democratic candidates will next turn their attention to states voting on March 15, including Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio.