Biden’s Michigan Win: A Promising Lead in Presidential Race

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the Michigan primary Tuesday over Bernie Sanders, making a clearer case to end up becoming the Democratic nominee.

By Darren Nichols

March 11, 2020

Signaling a Democratic party change from 2016, Biden won Michigan’s Primary. Here’s why that matters. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden won the Michigan primary Tuesday over Bernie Sanders, making a clearer case to end up becoming the Democratic nominee. He’s a clear fit for many Michigan voters. 

“Biden has all the recipes to put a good meal together,” said voter Shonda Peterson, a Harper Woods resident. 

“We’ve got a lot going on in the presidency so we need someone with skills to put the White House back in order,” Peterson said. “(Biden’s) the White Obama.”

In addition to Michigan, Biden and Sanders also squared off in Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington on Tuesday with a total of 352 pledged delegates at stake. But Michigan was the big prize with 125 delegates at stake.

Biden collected wins in Missouri and Mississippi, according to CNN. North Dakota was too close to call Tuesday night. Mississippi was the largest victory for Biden winning with a 80-15 percent margin.

Biden beat Sanders by a 53-41 margin, according CNN.

A look at who “Uncle Joe” Biden is 

Biden, 77, is the six-term senator from Delaware who was first elected in 1972. He served as Vice President under President Barack Obama, where he presided when the Affordable Care Act was passed. He also was supportive of climate control.

Known by many as “Uncle Joe,” Biden is considered a nice politician who has sought to reach bipartisanship during his time in office, even extending olive branches to Republicans when many of his colleagues won’t. For example, Biden voted in favor of the Iraq war in 2002, but opposed the surge of U.S. troops in 2007. Both sides of the aisle were split.

People are generally known to connect with Biden; the older voters connect with his experience in Washington and longevity as a leader, while others are enamored by the two terms he spent as Vice President under Barack Obama. 

“We can get those Trump voters back,” said Patty Leitzel, who lives in Romeo, a city in Macomb County, a region that Trump carried in 2016. “Those blue-collar and suburban women I know don’t want to vote for Trump this time.”

Detroiter Aaron Mayes told The ‘Gander he chose Biden March 10 because of his experience.

“(Biden) has an understanding of the inner workings of Washington, D.C. politics,” Mayes said, pointing to his time as Vice President. “Biden’s focus is on restoring democracy and alliances.”

Mayes also liked his plans for keeping healthcare a priority and more money for higher education.

“He pledged that he would provide two years of community college or training programs without cost,” Mayes said. ”This is very important for the future of Americans and the quality of education as it now stands.”

How Biden built momentum in Michigan

In a surprise, GOP Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor announced Monday night he was voting for Biden, another sign of Biden’s appeal.

“How could I look at those three kids and tell them I’m proud to support Donald Trump? I can’t. I won’t. I’m voting for @JoeBiden tomorrow and endorsing him for President of the United States. I hope you’ll join me,” he announced. 

Early results showed more people decided to vote using absentee ballots in this year’s Michigan primary – the first presidential election after Michiganders passed no-reason absentee voting. In a huge win for civic participation, there has been a 97 percent increase over 2016 in asking for absentee ballots, the Detroit Free Press reported. 

Political experts say it’s too early to call whether Biden can take back Michigan in the November presidential election. Michigan is a battleground state that the Democrats lost four years ago for the first time since 1988.

Biden made his case Tuesday by winning by a 20 percent margin in Oakland County and 10 percent in Macomb County.

Still some experts, though, still suggest that Biden’s nice guy image will hurt him. 

Knowing more chiding is expected to come toward Biden should he win the nomination, Democrats need to get ready and fight back, said Grosse Pointe-based political expert Greg Bowens.

“It won’t be enough for Biden to depend on the good will of America to overlook the insults and chiding that will come from Trump to elect him,” Bowens said. “Every time Trump gets away with calling him sleepy Joe or questions his mental acuity or his integrity, Joe is going to have to fight back and see more of Joe that he would take the president out in the back and less of this statesman.”

Heading into Tuesday’s primary election, Biden carried a 24-point poll lead in Michigan after convincing wins over Sen. Bernie Sanders in South Carolina and Super Tuesday states, a Detroit Free Press poll released Monday found. 

On Monday a CNN poll of Democratic voters nationwide showed Biden with a double-digit lead over Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Biden made those polls a reality.

The work ahead for Biden 

In Michigan, Biden rode last week’s wave conivingly winning the primary. But more work in his ground game is necessary, while also winning back Sanders supporters – many of who stayed home in 2016, rather than go out and vote for candidate Hillary Clinton.

Democrats are vowing not to repeat its failure in 2016. But, in order to do so, Biden must continue courting Sanders’ base, not losing many voters to President Donald Trump. This will require Biden to be more relatable to average voters. 

Biden has shown health care is his top priority, but he should remain focusing on his personal issues.

Where Biden’s strengths are 

Biden shows his humanness to connect with voters, sharing the story of his first wife and daughter who were killed in a car accident in 1972. Tragedy struck Biden’s life again in 2015 when his son Beau died of brain cancer. 

These are the issues that make healthcare personal and a priority for Biden. 

Biden touts his leadership roles and is expected to help sway voters by showing he’s more knowledgeable of Washington politics than Trump. Biden has served as International Narcotics Control Caucus and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Leitzel pointed to Biden’s loyalty and commitment by helping Democrats getting elected throughout the ticket in the past few years as another strength.

“(Biden’s) history has been to support the party’s policies,” Leitzel said. :I think he will pick a progressive Vice President and build a progressive coalition. He’s going to work with everybody on the progressive side.”

Keeping the energy up in Michigan 

Biden has already begun to seek support from key African American allies that will help him in the largely Black and Democratic Detroit. Within the last week, Biden has received endorsements from former challengers Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Kamala Harris.

In Detroit, Democrat Hillary Clinton won with 95 percent of the vote in the city that’s nearly 80 percent black.

Biden will need a large turnout in Detroit to off-set the overwhelming support from the white working class, particularly many who worked in auto plants. It had been a demographic group that was largely Democratic in recent history.

“How he can position himself going forward is to speak more directly to the aspirations of the working class,” Bowens said. “There’s a lot of a feeling of voting for a Democrat, I don’t care who it is. But that kind of strategy depends on people being reminded of President Trump’s foibles in his boorishness.”

Michigan Results – By The Numbers

  • 32% of voters in Michigan supported Joe Biden March 10, MLive.
  • 85% of the vote counted in Michigan had Biden lead by more than 160,000 of those votes, CNN.
  • 93% of voters from 30 precincts reporting, supported Republican nominee, U.S. Pres. Donald Trump March 10, MLive.
  • Nearly 100,000 absentee votes were cast — up 97% from the 2016 primary, Bridge Magazine.
  • 352 delegates among six states were involved in Super Tuesday; a quarter of those delegates were at stake, Michigan Public Radio.
  • 25% or 76,324 people in New Hampshire swing state voted for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, followed closely by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, Associated Press.
  • Around 100% of voters in the Democratic races in other swing states overwhelmingly voted for Biden, too Detroit Free Press.




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