Sanders stuns Clinton in key Michigan primary

Bernie Sanders upsets Hillary Clinton by winning Michigan Democratic primary, while Trump wins three more states in repudiation of Republican establishment

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders acknowledges his supporters on arrival at a campaign rally, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Miami.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders pulled a big upset winning Democratic presidential primary in Michigan on Tuesday, beating the frontrunner Hillary Clinton and ensuring a prolonged fight for the nomination.

Sanders won Michigan with 50 percent, 2 points ahead of Clinton, despite the polls before the primary showing former secretary of state ahead more than 20 points according to RealClearPolitics averages.

In the Republican primaries on Tuesday night, frontrunner Donald Trump swept to victory in both Michigan, Mississippi, and Hawaii overcoming fierce efforts to blunt his momentum. Ted Cruz won Idaho and came second in the other three states continuing his chase after Trump.

Clinton, on the other hand, won in Mississippi with a margin of over 50 points, adding to her victories in southern states where black voters make up a significant portion of Democratic primary electorate.

Sanders, meanwhile, said Michigan signalled "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," the Vermont senator said in a statement.

Trump's convincing win in Michigan restored his outsider campaign's momentum, padded his lead over Cruz and increased the pressure on the party's anti-Trump forces to find a way to stop the brash billionaire's march to the nomination ahead of several key contests next week.

At a news conference afterward, Trump said he was drawing new voters to the Republican Party and the establishment figures who are resisting his campaign should save their money and focus on beating the Democrats in November.

"Every single person who has attacked me has gone down," Trump said at one of his Florida resorts.

While a handful of recent losses to Cruz have raised questions about Trump's durability, Tuesday's contests marked another lost opportunity for rivals desperate to stop his march to the nomination. Next week's winner-take-all contests in Ohio and Florida loom large as perhaps the last chance to block him short of a contested convention fight.

Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks about the results of the Michigan, Mississippi and other primary elections during a news conference held at his Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, March 8, 2016.

The results were a setback for rival John Kasich, governor of Ohio, who had hoped to pull off a surprise win in neighbouring Michigan.

For Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Tuesday marked the latest in a series of disappointing nights. He emerged from Michigan and Mississippi with no new delegates, a grim outcome for a candidate who has overwhelming support from Republican senators, governors and other elected officials.

Rubio insisted he would press on to his home state's primary in Florida next Tuesday.

"It has to happen here, and it has to happen now," Rubio told supporters during a rally in Sarasota.

If Rubio and Kasich can't win at home, the GOP primary appears set to become a two-person race between Trump and Cruz. The Texas senator is sticking close in the delegate count, and with seven states in his win column he's argued he's the only candidate standing between the brash billionaire and the GOP nomination.

Some mainstream Republicans have cast both Trump and Cruz as unelectable in a November face-off with the Democratic nominee. But they're quickly running out of options — and candidates —to prevent one of the men from becoming the GOP standard-bearer.

With Tuesday's wins, Trump leads the Republican field with 446 delegates, followed by Cruz with 347, Rubio with 151 and Kasich with 54. Winning the GOP nomination requires 1,237 delegates.

After Tuesday's results, Clinton has accumulated 1,221 delegates and Sanders 571. Those numbers include the “superdelegates” who are not part of the primary process but have a right to vote in conventions because they are distinguished party members or elected officials. Without the superdelegates Clinton has 760 delegates against Sanders' 546. Democrats need 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.

TRTWorld and agencies