After disappointing results on Super Tuesday where he won only four of fourteen states, Bernie Sanders heads to Michigan on Friday facing a dramatically different race for President, as he looks for ways to blunt the new momentum of Joe Biden, and tries to figure out why his 2020 campaign has not been able to push new voters to the polls.
"Have we been as successful as I would hope in bringing young people in?" Sanders said to reporters earlier this week in his home state of Vermont. "The answer is no."
The Sanders schedule makes it very clear where his campaign wants to make a stand on March 10, as his campaign has now added stops on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Michigan.
Originally, Sanders was to campaign in Mississippi on Friday - a state where Joe Biden is strongly favored - but that was changed in favor of a rally in Detroit.
"Michigan is obviously an enormously important state," Sanders told reporters on Wednesday in Vermont. "We are going in there with the full expectation and the hope that we will win."
This is not a strategy for success.— Ian Sams (@IanSams) March 5, 2020
In 2016, Sanders executed the exact same play the week after Super Tuesday, shifting all resources to Michigan and ignoring Mississippi. He won Michigan, but only netted 4 delegates. Hillary crushed him in Mississippi and netted 26. https://t.co/NQ8ij2wAp6
Sanders had a bad night in the southeast states on Tuesday. The results conformed with that in South Carolina. Biden is likely to easily win GA, LA, MS, and FL in the coming weeks. The delegate losses here will be very hard for Sanders to make up. #SuperTuesdayResults pic.twitter.com/p39NqPDNdY— Matthew Isbell (@mcimaps) March 4, 2020
One of the worst results for Sanders on Super Tuesday was probably Vermont -- in 2016, he carried his home state with 86% of the vote, and Clinton wasn't even viable there. This week, he was down to a 51% majority; Biden tied him in two towns, and received delegates. pic.twitter.com/cSZPXZFPOR— J. Miles Coleman (@JMilesColeman) March 5, 2020
Four years ago in 2016, Sanders did win in Michigan in a close race over Hillary Clinton, but Clinton's easy victory in Mississippi gave her the edge that primary night.
In 2020, Michigan is the biggest prize in the six contests set for Tuesday, with 125 delegates at stake.
Also voting with Michigan will be, Washington State (89 delegates), Missouri (68), Mississippi (36), Idaho (20), and North Dakota (14).
On Thursday, the race further narrowed as Elizabeth Warren dropped out, joining Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar, as the Democratic field has rapidly narrowed in less than a week.
Sanders supporters had hoped that Warren might endorse their candidate, but instead she will stay on the sidelines for now in the Biden-Sanders fight.
Elizabeth Warren says she will not be making an endorsement today: "I need some space around this and want to take a little time to think a little more" https://t.co/JhDYm1mXAT pic.twitter.com/aOstTWFB9L— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 5, 2020
While Warren remains uncommitted, Klobuchar is throwing herself right back on the campaign trail for Biden, going to Michigan for a series of Biden events on Friday and Saturday.
Meanwhile, Michigan Democrats began to come off the bench on Thursday for Biden, continuing an absolutely unprecedented wave of party endorsements for the former Vice President.
"We need a president who will show up and fight for Michiganders, and Joe Biden has proven time and again that he has our back," said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
"Today, I filled out my absentee ballot for Joe Biden," said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), a freshman Democrat in Congress from Michigan.
The quick reshuffling of the deck in the Democratic race was also showing a dramatic edge for Biden in Florida, which holds its primary on March 17 - and could provide a further boost for Biden over Sanders - as a new poll showed Biden leading Sanders by 49 points.
New Florida poll out today (from Wednesday, which included Bloomberg at 13.5%) has Biden up 61-12% over Sanders. Let me repeat - 61 to 12%.— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) March 5, 2020
Florida has 219 delegates at stake. Margins like that would mean an overwhelming delegate win for Biden.https://t.co/6HM7Phrc1T pic.twitter.com/3m6BMBd0Pe
Florida has 219 delegates at stake on March 17. A win of that size for Biden would more than erase the 60-plus delegate advantage that Sanders currently has in California, where votes continue to be counted in Tuesday's primary.
352 delegates are up for grabs in six states on March 10.
577 delegates are at stake on March 17 from Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Arizona.