In a stunning upset, Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary in Michigan last night, narrowly beating Hillary Clinton and delighting those unnamed members of the Webner household who have felt the Bern and are supporting the Sanders campaign.
It was a shocking victory, because the polls prior to the Michigan primary had shown that Hillary Clinton was way ahead in Michigan, by as much as 20 percentage points, and the pundits had already chalked up the state as falling into the Clinton win column. But the polls were wrong — obviously — and now the pundits and pollsters are wondering whether there are some fundamental errors in their polling metrics and identification of likely voters. They are uncomfortably considering whether the fact that polls were so wrong in Michigan might mean that the polling data in similar Midwestern states, like Ohio and Illinois, might also be way off base. The polls in those states are showing Hillary Clinton currently holds big leads heading into primaries that will be held next week.
Sanders’ upset win is richly satisfying — not because I’m a Sanders supporter or Hillary hater, but because I’m sick to death of how the news media now uses polling data and know-it-all pronouncements to drive a horse race narrative and prematurely pick the winner, rather than just reporting on what the candidates are saying and doing and letting the voters decide. The pollsters and pundits have long since declared Hillary Clinton the presumptive Democratic nominee and have talked, talked, talked about when Sanders will be forced to get out of the race, but the voters in Michigan had something different to say about it and thumbed their noses at the Beltway crowd in the process. Good for them!
Bernie Sanders obviously touches a chord with some voters that Hillary Clinton simply cannot reach. Does his win in Michigan mean he might pull off an upset here in Ohio? I don’t know, but I will say that I have personally seen a lot more excitement and activity in the Sanders campaign than I have from the Clinton campaign. In Michigan, Sanders crushed Clinton among younger voters, made significant inroads with African-American voters, and appealed to Democrats who are fed up with their economic circumstances. Ohio isn’t quite in the same shape as Michigan, but many of the same issues are present, and there’s no reason to believe Sanders can’t do the same thing here.
I’m hoping that Bernie Sander’s Michigan shocker means the pundits will stop with their confident pronouncements about what is going to happen, in Ohio and elsewhere, based on polling data that might just be fundamentally flawed. Perhaps, just perhaps, they will be content to actually let the voters vote now that the race moves to the Buckeye State.