By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker
A new poll shows that Bernie Sanders is quickly gaining ground against Hillary Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in Michigan and could pull off an upset.
According to the Michigan State University poll, Clinton is leading 51.9% to 46.9%, which is within the 6.1% margin of error. Previous polls have shown Clinton leading by double-digits.
The State of the State Survey also shows Donald Trump in a comfortable lead with 36.1% of the votes in Michigan. Ted Cruz was second with 19.5%, followed by Marco Rubio with 18.1%.
Michigan is critical to Sanders because more delegates are at stake than any of the previous primary states, except for Texas, where Clinton scored a big victory, 65.2% to 33.2%. A win would give him a lot of momentum.
It’s unclear what accounts for Sanders’ surge, but both candidates have been campaigning in the state.
The poll, released by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, shows Sanders is favored by 79% of voters between the ages 18 and 29. But Clinton is favored by about 78% of voters 65 years and older.
If Sanders is going to pull off an upset, he likely will need a higher-than-expected turnout among young people.
The survey shows Sanders continues to struggle among non-white voters, who prefer Clinton by about 72%.
The poll was conducted between Jan. 25 and March 3, which is before the candidates participated in a debate on Sunday in Flint and a town hall Monday in Detroit.
Some polling experts are questioning the reliability of the MSU poll.
Susan J. Demas, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, said the poll used “flawed methodology.”
“Clinton will win,” Demas said told me on Twitter, pointing to the highly reputable FiveThirtyEight projections that indicate Sanders has just a 1% chance of winning in the state.
FiveThirtyEight’s forecast suggests Clinton is leading 60.2% to 37.3% in Michigan but does not take into account the MSU poll.
“Change in this country … always comes from the bottom on up,” Sanders said today during the town hall hosted by Fox News in downtown Detroit. “That’s what this campaign is about.”
Clinton acknowledged she struggled with young people, but said her goal is to show that the country has a bright future.
“I want to rebuild people’s confidence in our country and where we are headed in the future,” Clinton said.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.