Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders performed surprisingly strong Tuesday night in Michigan's primary, closing out a stunning upset that could breathe new life into his campaign.
Sanders defeated Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, The Associated Press projected shortly after 11:30 p.m. ET. NBC News and CNN echoed that projection minutes later.
With about 95% of precincts reporting, he held a 50.1% to 48% lead over Clinton.
His victory came despite the fact that polls had given Clinton a huge advantage heading into the state's contest.
A Monmouth University poll conducted last week found the former secretary of state with a 13-point lead. The RealClearPolitics average of three recent surveys put her up more than 20 points.
"I am grateful to the people of Michigan for defying the pundits and pollsters and giving us their support. This is a critically important night. We came from 30 points down in Michigan and we’re seeing the same kind of come-from-behind momentum all across America," Sanders said in a statement released by his campaign after the victory.
Not only is Michigan the gateway to the rest of the industrial Midwest, the results there show that we are a national campaign. We already have won in the Midwest, New England and the Great Plains and as more people get to know more about who we are and what our views are we’re going to do very well.
According to MSNBC exit polls, Sanders appeared to make up some of the deficit among black voters, who have overwhelmingly favored Clinton in the primary thus far.
Sanders doing significantly better with black voters in Mich than elsewhere...
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) March 9, 2016
Not all of the Tuesday-night news was bad for Clinton, however.
She easily won the Democratic primary in Mississippi, taking home the majority of the state's 36 delegates. Due to the close split in Michigan, Clinton is likely to capture a solid chunk of the state's delegates even with Sanders' win. And Sanders still trails her in the overall delegate count.
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