There may be six primaries and caucuses being held this coming Tuesday, but there’s only one Michigan. After the shock and awe of South Carolina Saturday and Super Tuesday, Michigan could end up being the bellwether state that determines the balance of the primary calendar, Bernie’s final firewall.
Bernie Sanders desperately needs a win in Michigan, and it can’t be a narrow margin either. He has to win by at least a comfortable margin to do himself any good. Last night on MSNBC, using the at that time current delegate count, and the rough delegate estimator tool, Steve Kornacki showed how Sanders could win by moderate margins in Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, narrowly in Michigan, and still end up farther behind on delegates if Biden performs in Mississippi the way that he performed in South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama and the rest of the south. Not only that, but Sanders could win the majority of primaries on the 17th and 24th, and still end up even further behind if Biden wipes him out in Georgia and Florida, as he’s widely expected to do. That would be another dozen states off of the map, with Sanders likely down double digits.
The secret to success in sports is to play .500 on the road, and then clean up at home. That’s what Biden is doing so far, and it’s working perfectly. He’s staying close in Bernie states, not letting Sanders sweep large numbers of delegates, and where Biden wins, he wins by blowouts. One of the ways he neutralized Sanders in California was to use the Plouffe model, target his limited resources specifically to high delegate districts. Let Bernie win 5 districts with one delegate each, as long as Biden wins the district with 4 delegates coming out of it.
But the dynamic that makes Michigan so fascinating to watch is that it is going to be the first major delegate state where Biden and Sanders go mano-y-mano. Coming a week after Super Tuesday means that not as many early votes will have been cast for candidates no longer in the race. And most importantly, Michigan is exactly the kind of state that is at the heart of each candidates electability argument as being the kind of state that only they can win to get Trump out of office. Both men have held out flipping back the rust belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and possibly Ohio as being their strength to beating Trump in November. And on Tuesday, we’ll get to see who’s got game.
Sanders really, really needs to win Michigan, and by as large of a margin as possible. First of all, Sanders really needs to at least give the appearance of slowing down, if not stalling out Biden’s incredible momentum from South Carolina and Super Tuesday. Winning Michigan would give Sanders bragging rights regarding the rust belt states, at least temporarily. And more importantly, Sanders needs as many delegates as possible to at least keep Biden within striking distance until Biden tuns out of southern states to crucify Sanders in. And he needs it now.
Biden badly needs a win, any kind of win in Michigan, and largely for the same reason. A win in Michigan makes Biden the one who can flip back the rust states on Trump, and it may even set in motion a domino effect that topples Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and possibly Ohio from his momentum. But Biden needs a win, and the bigger the better in Michigan for a more subtle reason. Right now, Biden is kicking Sanders’ ass up and down the field in the delegate rich southern states. That’s fine in the primaries, but these are still traditionally deep red states. While flipping Georgia, North Carolina, and possibly even Florida would go a long way towards bouncing Trump’s orangutan ass out of 1600 Pennsylvania, they are no sure thing. The path of least resistance for the Democrats is still to flip back Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and winning Michigan large could set the tone for November.
Obviously, there is still a long way to go. But a little more than a week ago, Bernie Sanders made his strategy plain and simple, and he said it out loud. His goal was to be leading in delegates going into Super Tuesday, and to be leading by even more delegated when Super Tuesday was over with. It didn’t work out that way for Bernie, and it didn’t work out that way in the worst possible way. It ended up looking like the majority of the party had decided to coalesce around Biden as the more electable candidate. There may still be time to turn this around for Sanders, but that turnaround must start in Michigan. If he loses the first state that’s most soundly in the wheelhouse of his entire philosophy and campaign, where does he win?
To know the future, look to the past.before the insanity of the 2020 election, relive the insanity of the 2016 GOP primary campaign, and the general election, to see how we got to where we are. Copies of President Evil, and the sequel, President Evil II, A Clodwork Orange are available as e-books on Amazon, at the links above. Catch up before the upcoming release of the third book in the trilogy, President Evil III: All The Presidents Fen