Bernie Sanders edged out Hillary Clinton last night in Michigan, and yet again all the polls and conventional wisdom and pundits were absolutely wrong about the race. So how did Bernie win a race he was 20 points behind in? The exit polls show the way.
Here's the big one: The youth vote (21%) outnumbered the senior vote (20%) for the first time in a Dem primary, and Bernie also won the Gen X vote. The college kids showed up big time for Sanders.
The second big factor is that Bernie did a lot better among non-white voters than he has been here, especially among Michigan's Arab-American communities in cities like Dearborn and Hamtramck. He also got 30% of the black vote. while winning the white vote by 16 points.
Finally the third factor:
Michigan's open primary paid off for Sanders, as more than a quarter of the vote came from independents, and Bernie won that group nearly 3-to-1. A closed primary would have been a far better result for Hillary Clinton.
So what does this mean going forward? Sanders did what he needed to in Michigan, gaining nine delegates on Clinton there. But considering Clinton completely obliterated Sanders in Mississippi by more than 60 points, he lost all those and then some. Despite Sanders getting a badly needed and impressive win last night, Clinton ended up increasing her total delegate lead by 16, and Sanders simply cannot win at this point unless every state is like Michigan, and he wins those states by bigger margins than two percent.
Sanders won this battle, certainly. He's still losing the war, and lost ground last night. Clinton can afford to lose proportional states and split the remaining states. Sanders needs a chain of blowouts, especially in big states like Ohio, Florida and Illinois next Tuesday.
He's not going to get them.