On the night of March 8, thousands of political spectators across the country were left with mouths agape when Bernie Sanders (49.8 percent) won the Michigan Democratic primary over Hillary Clinton (48.3 percent).
To say it was an upset is an understatement. Numerous polls had Clinton with at least a 20-point lead over Sanders. Clinton was favored to win the primary with 99 percent certainty, according to statistical analyst Nate Silver, creator of FiveThirtyEight. Yet Bernie Sanders won—that outcome sent shockwaves through the political community.
Observers haven’t pinpointed a reason for Sanders’ amazing comeback, but the general consensus seems to be that Michigan’s open primary system played a crucial role in Sanders’ victory. Ohio also has this system, in which registered voters choose which party’s primary to vote in when they show up to their polling place on election day.
The general idea is that numerous voters who weren’t registered as Democrats showed up and voted for Sanders in the Democratic primary. It’s likely that we won’t find the true secrets to the Sanders surge until well after the primaries have ended, but this is the most popular explanation at present.
While the Michigan victory itself was historic, its implications are even more far-reaching. No one expected Sanders to make it this far. Super Tuesday was supposed to mark the point of no return, after which he had no reasonable chance of securing the nomination.
However Sanders is now back in the race, and with a vengeance. His numbers have only been rising, and as the candidates have more debates and campaign more and more ferociously, his voting base is swelling in size.
This brings us to March 15, which was the day of the primary in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri and Ohio. Clinton was projected to win in a landslide in all of these states but Missouri. Despite the fervent hopes of Sanders supporters everywhere, Clinton managed to pull out a victory in every one of these states but Missouri.
However this is not the death knell for the Sanders campaign that many analysts suspected. Sanders closed the gap to within 15 points in every state except Florida. This is a remarkable feat, considering all forecasts called for a crushing defeat. The primaries are marching onward, and Bernie Sanders is marching with them.
Though his chances of securing the nomination are now mathematically slim, there is still hope; now that the Deep South has finished its primaries, the remaining states are predicted to be more aligned with Sanders.
If this election cycle has shown us anything, it’s that it’s not over until the last votes are in.
Danny Miles is a second-year student who took far too long to send out his ballot. He hopes everyone voted this year, no matter who they voted for.