Bernie Sanders Won Michigan, But Hillary Clinton Won Flint

The former Secretary of State did some serious campaigning in the beleaguered city.
Clinton and Sanders debated in Flint on Sunday. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Clinton and Sanders debated in Flint on Sunday. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the Michigan Democratic primary on Tuesday, but Hillary Clinton won Flint, the Michigan city that received the most attention in the run-up to the election.

Clinton won Flint with 65 percent of the vote to Sanders' 34 percent, according to Greg Giroux, who crunched the raw numbers for Bloomberg Government. Sanders won the state with 49.8 percent to Clinton's 48.3, a result earlier polls had failed to predict.

Flint, a city of nearly 100,00 that is 57 percent African American, has been in the national spotlight because of a drinking water crisis for which Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has repeatedly apologized. Flint's water has been poisoned with high levels of lead since the Snyder administration oversaw a switch in the city's water source and failed to ensure its proper treatment in 2014.  

Although Sanders called on Snyder to resign all the way back in January, Clinton's response to the Flint water crisis has been more forceful. She visited the city on a campaign stop on Feb. 8, where she spoke to a packed church and met with local officials.

Sanders held a forum in Flint for community members later that month, and he met with Flint residents in Detroit before that.

Clinton’s campaign also put Sanders’ campaign on the defensive in January when they proposed an additional presidential debate in Flint and Sanders did not immediately agree. At the debate, Clinton joined Sanders in calling on Snyder to resign, and both candidates said Flint's water crisis is an example of infrastructure problems throughout the country.

"We have a lot of communities right now in our country where the level of toxins in the water, including lead, are way above what anybody should tolerate," Clinton said.

Clinton enjoyed the endorsement of Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (D), and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), the congressman representing the district in which the city is located.

Weaver told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Tuesday night that she had decided to back Clinton because of her early engagement with Flint on the water crisis. Weaver helped bring national attention to the water crisis when she declared an emergency at the end of last year.

“As soon as I did the emergency declaration back in December, she immediately contacted us,” Weaver said. “She started sending really high-level people to Flint and looking at what could they do to help the situation. They have been in constant contact with us, communication. They’ve been there several times.”

Despite Clinton’s loss in Michigan, her win in Flint shows that African-American voters still favor her over Sanders. Clinton’s advantage among African Americans has been a key driver of her enormous delegate lead over Sanders.

Statewide, Sanders won 28 percent of the African-American vote, while Clinton picked up 68 percent, according to the CNN exit poll. Sanders nonetheless performed better among African Americans than he did in many Southern states, where African Americans make up a larger share of the Democratic electorate.

Among the 85 percent of Michigan voters who told CNN's exit pollsters they would prefer stronger water safety regulations, 53 percent favored Sanders and 44 percent favored Clinton.