As Biden rides momentum, Sanders faces uphill battle in Michigan

Sanders is looking to regain his front-runner status with an upset in the delegate-rich Michigan

Four years ago, Bernie Sanders scored an upset win in Michigan against Hillary Clinton, reenergizing his presidential campaign and prolonging the Democratic primary.

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Now, as the Democratic nominating contest has narrowed to a two-man race between Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Vermont senator and self-avowed democratic socialist is looking to repeat his on Tuesday, when Michigan voters cast their ballots.

Biden, fresh off the heels of a surprise victory on Super Tuesday, when he won 10 states and secured a slim delegate lead, is up by a whopping 24 percentage points, according to a Detroit Free Press poll released Monday. (Of course, Sanders supporters are quick to point out that in 2016 polls favored Clinton).

The poll of 400 likely Democratic primary voters was conducted between Wednesday and Friday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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Sanders is looking to regain his front-runner status with an upset in the delegate-rich state. Of the six states that will vote Tuesday, Michigan is the biggest prize, offering contenders a total of 125 delegates.

“Something happened on Super Tuesday with (other) candidates getting out and people are all of a sudden questioning Bernie’s positions on issues,” said Bernie Porn, pollster for Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, which conducted the survey, told the Detroit Free Press. “If anything, it may be low in terms of the percentage that Biden may get.”

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According to the poll, Sanders is not doing as well with younger voters or voters outside of Detroit as he did in 2016 when his campaign was riding a fresh wave of enthusiasm. Sanders has repeatedly hinged his electability against President Trump on his power to appeal to disaffected independents and by generating a massive youth turnout.

According to new polls, the youngest voters, between the ages of 18 and 34, are expected to make up 21 percent of Tuesday’s electorate. If they skew heavily toward Sanders like they did in 2016 when 65 percent voted for the anti-establishment candidate, it could help him beat Biden.

In order to secure the nomination, candidates need to secure 1,991 of the 3,979 pledged delegates at the July convention in Milwaukee. Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington will also vote Tuesday.

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FiveThirtyEight’s forecast shows the most likely outcome is that Biden reaches the majority before the convention. An aggregate of polls by RealClearPolitics has Biden leading over Sanders by close to 15 percentage points.