In Michigan, Biden Swept Counties That Voted for Sanders and Then Trump in 2016

Joe Biden's dominance of Michigan on Tuesday further solidified his position as the Democratic primary frontrunner—a victory that entailed winning every single county in the state that Donald Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump won the state by roughly 10,700 votes, or just 0.24 percent, even though Michigan stayed solidly blue with a win by Obama—who bested Mitt Romney in 2012 by a 450,000-vote margin—and a Sanders sweep of 68 Michigan counties during the 2016 primary.

Tuesday's contested election also drew the second-highest number of voters in the state, placing it behind the state's 2016 primary, the Detroit Free Press reported. So far, unofficial counts show that about 29 percent of Michigan's registered voters—or 2.3 million people—cast ballots in Tuesday's primary. In 2016, a record 2.5 million votes were cast.

Biden's resounding win of Michigan, worth 125 delegates, and its large population of blue-collar workers suggests he could take back the state that briefly went red and that he stands a chance of beating Trump in November.

"I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and their passion," Biden said Tuesday night in a speech in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "We share a common goal, and together, we'll defeat Donald Trump. We'll defeat him together."

Joe Biden March 10 primary Bernie Sanders
Democratic presidential hopeful former Vice President Joe Biden walks out after speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 10. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

The reason for Biden's victory over Sanders was multi-pronged. Younger voters accounted for less of the electorate, a key demographic for Sanders. He also received less support among voters who are white and male.

Biden dominated among senior citizens, which make up a large portion of the electorate. He also won big with Democrats who considered themselves moderate or conservative, a group that was larger than more liberal voters who backed Sanders.

The majority of voters said they prefer a candidate who they think can unseat Trump. That group also went for Biden.

Biden's win in Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho allowed him to expand his lead in the primary with a total of 823 delegates as of Wednesday morning. Sanders won the North Dakota caucuses and trails Biden with 663 delegates. Washington state remained too close to call.

Despite the tough night for Sanders, the self-described democratic socialist said Wednesday that he intends to stay in the race and his populist message on ideas such as rooting out corruption and wealth in politics, taxing large corporations, passing Medicare for All and eliminating student loan debt.

"We are winning the generational debate. While Joe Biden continues to do very well with older Americans, our campaign continues to win the vast majority of the votes of younger people," Sanders said at a press conference in Burlington, Vermont, his first public remarks since Tuesday night's defeat. "To the Democratic establishment: in order to win in the future, you need to win the voters who represent the future of our country, and you must speak to the issues of concern to them."

The chart below, provided by Statista, shows the current delegate count as of Wednesday morning. In order to secure the nomination, a candidate needs 1,991 delegates.

Democratic delegate count 2020 election statista
Democratic presidential candidates' delegate count as of March 11, 6 a.m. ET. Statista