The stricken city of Flint, Michigan, will host the next Democratic debate where Hillary and Clinton and Bernie Sanders will face off for the seventh time in the 2016 Presidential campaign — this time at Ground Zero in the conflict between ordinary citizens and government, a conflict that appears to be driving voters in both the Republican and Democratic campaigns.
Flint residents have been suffering from a lead-poisoned water supply generally thought to have been caused by a serious of bottom-line driven decisions by Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, and his underlings.
Both Democratic candidates have paid visits to Flint to hear residents concerns at local community forums. Clinton has slammed Snyder, saying that his attempt to “save a little money” led directly to the poisoning of hundreds of children. Sanders has called on Snyder to resign, to take accountability for the Flint water crisis.
The human disaster serves as the backdrop for the next Democratic debate, held at The Whiting Auditorium on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint — a debate that comes just two days before Michigan hold its Democratic primary on March 18, with 148 delegates available to split between the two candidates.
Hillary Clinton is expected to take the lion’s share of those delegates. As if March 1, polls showed the former Secretary of State and New York Senator with a seemingly insurmountable lead over Sanders — a lead as high as 28 points in the most recent poll, taken by local TV station Fox 2 Detroit.
In the FiveThirtyEight.com polling average of 12 recent major polls, Clinton leads with 59 percent support, compared to just 34.4 percent for Sanders in Michigan.
To preview the next Democratic debate, viewers can re-watch the last one, held February 11 in Milwaukee, in its entirety the video below.
The Huffington Post Pollster.com average looks very similar, seeing Clinton at 60.2 percent to 33.3 for Sanders. The Real Clear Politics site’s average shows the race slightly tighter, with Clinton at 55 percent and Sanders with 37.3. But in all the polls, Clinton looks set to dominate the Michigan primary with only a major debate gaffe on Sunday night posing any possible risk.
But the Michigan primary is far from the only contest on the agenda over the coming week for the Democratic candidates — making the March 6 debate crucial for Bernie Sanders who trails Clinton by nearly 200 delegates. With the way delegates are split proportionally in most Democratic primary and caucus states, Sanders will not only need to start winning big states in a hurry, he will need to win them by big margins. And no polls yet show that happening — meaning the Flint, Michigan, debate may be the last chance for Bernie Sanders to score some kind of knockout blow on Clinton that could turn the election around.
“Clinton has a clear path to winning the nomination, and Sanders’s only hope to derail her is for something very unusual to happen,” wrote Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight.com.
“We’ve now seen 15 states vote in the Democratic contest, and it’s clear that Clinton’s coalition is wider than Sanders’s. Sanders has won only in relatively small states where black voters make up less than 10 percent of the population. That’s not going to work this year when black voters are likely to make up more than 20 percent of Democratic primary voters nationwide,” Enten wrote.
The population of Michigan is 14.2 percent black, as of July 2014, according to Census Bureau data.
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The state of Louisiana has a population that is 32.5 percent black, and Lousiana holds its Democratic primary on Saturday, the night before the next Democratic debate. Clinton also leads that state going away, leading by 47 points in the most recent poll, released March 1 by Magellan Strategies.
The next Democratic debate, from Flint, Michigan, will be held on Sunday, March 6, and is scheduled to get underway at 8 p.m. Eastern Time 5 p.m. Pacific. The debate will be carried by CNN, with anchor Anderson Cooper serving as moderator, and another CNN personality, Don Lemon, contributing questions as well — with Michigan residents also submitting questions for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. CNN will stream the next Democratic debate via CNN Go at this link.
[Featured Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]