Less that 24 hours after Bernie Sanders dealt Hillary Clinton a stunning defeat in the Michigan primary, the Democratic candidates will debate live for the second time in four days, in a confrontation that will stream from Miami — and could prove crucial in setting a course for the suddenly suspenseful race for the party’s nomination going forward.
Sanders overcame a Michigan polling deficit of more than 20 points to stun Clinton and the entire Democratic party by squeaking out a narrow victory by less than two percentage points — but an amazing and unexpected victory nonetheless — in the heavily industrial state where Sanders fierce opposition to free trade deals previously supported by Hillary Clinton appears to have resonated deeply with voters there who have seen their economy devastated over the past two decades.
UPDATE March 10: Watch a full replay of the Sanders vs. Clinton debate March 9 in Miami, Florida, in the video below.
According to polling analyst Nate Silver, Sanders’ performance was the biggest upset in relation to the polls since new Hampshire in 1984, when Walter Mondale led Gary Hart by 17.1 points, only to end up losing to the Colorado Senator. But can Sanders repeat his feat, which had not been accomplished in more than 30 years and eight elections?
Sunday night’s debate in Flint, Michigan, in which Sanders hammered Clinton over her ties to free trade agreements, as well as her connections to Wall Street through campaign contributions, speaking fees, and other ties, may have proven to be a pivotal moment in creating the upset that will have political analysts pondering for weeks, trying to figure out what happened.
Watch a full replay of the testy and confrontational Flint, Michigan, debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the video below, to get a preview of what to expect from Wednesday’s Florida debate.
The debate will be the last before March 15, a day which could be called “Super Tuesday 2,” with the delegate-rich states of Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and Missouri all going to the polls. But the biggest prize of the night will be Florida itself, with 246 Democratic delegates available — the most of any state to vote in the 2016 primary campaign so far and the third-most, behind New York and California, of any state in the country.
The question for Sanders now is whether he has changed the narrative of the campaign enough with his narrow victory in Michigan — with 99.4 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders led Clinton by fewer than 20,000 votes out of about 1.2 million cast — to manage not just one more poll-defying upset, but a series of them.
Because Sanders lost the Mississippi primary to Clinton on Tuesday, and lost it by an overwhelming landslide in which Clinton took home 82.5 percent of the vote, the 74-year-old Vermont senator actually came out on the short end of the night, falling further behind Clinton in the pledged delegate count.
Out of the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination, Clinton is now nearly one-third of the way there with 760, while Sanders trails more than 200 behind at 546.
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Those totals do not include so-called “super delegates,” the party bigwigs and elected officials who are allowed to vote any way they choose. So far, super delegates favor Clinton by a huge margin.
Due to the proportional method of allocating delegates in Democratic primaries, Sanders must not only win big states such as Ohio, Florida, and Illinois — he must win them by big margins to have any hope of catching Clinton in the delegate count.
So far, that prospect looks out of reach for Sanders, as he trails in Florida polling by nearly 30 points, in the RealClearPolitics polling average, and by about the same daunting gap in Illinois. In Ohio, Sanders lags 20 points behind Clinton.
Was the incredible Bernie Sanders upset of Hillary Clinton in Michigan merely a statistical outlier that happens just once in a generation? Or has Sanders really “changed the game” by defying polls and pundits in Michigan? His debate performance Wednesday is likely to play a major role in what happens on March 15, and will be the last chance for both candidates to go head-to-head for at least a month. The next debate is scheduled for sometime in April, with no specific date yet determined.
The latest Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton Democratic Debate is scheduled to get underway at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, 6 p.m. Pacific, at Miami-Dade College in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, March 9. The debate will be broadcast by Univision and simulcast on CNN — as well as streamed live on the Washington Post site at this link. Post political correspondent Karen Tumulty will act as moderator along with Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos of Univision, which will stream the debate live for a Spanish-speaking audience at this link. Another live stream will be available from CNN Go by clicking on this link. Viewers can also try this link for an alternative live stream.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]