Header Image by Matt A.J. via Flickr.com
Four years removed from an intense primary contest that catapulted him to national prominence, Bernie Sanders will once again plant roots in Michigan ahead of the state’s primary on March 10th.
Sanders, who won the state in 2016, edging out Clinton 49.8% to 48.3%, hopes to make the state a big piece of his delegate war chest going into the DNC convention.
Much has changed across the political and candidate landscape in the four years since the 2016 democratic primary. Probably the most glaring difference was the almost vacant field of challengers to presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton. The field in 2016 more closely resembled the sort of field one would expect of an incumbent run for the nomination and less like a wide open primary.
In the context of the time, it made sense. Democrats were coming off of two terms of Barack Obama and felt confident they would capture a sweeping victory with their candidate of choice. The obvious choice among party insiders for the nomination seemed to be Clinton, who had stepped aside from her role as Secretary of State and began preparing for the campaign two years earlier.
The odds-on favorite was seemingly so presumptive that Sanders’ announcement appeared to be more rooted in the belief that the nominee should receive some modicum of competition during the primaries and less of a legitimate attempt to win the nomination. In short, perhaps Sanders would be able to use the platform provided to a candidate in such a sparse field to promote some of his priorities and shape the campaign platform to some degree, but the notion that a Sanders nomination was a possible outcome did not even register with the average voter.
The assumption almost seems humorous with the power of hindsight, as Sanders became a serious challenger to Clinton’s coronation as the Democratic party’s top candidate. An FBI investigation, a private meeting between her husband and AG Loretta Lynch and 33,000 emails later, the presumptive nominee was facing down the possibility of losing.
In the end, Clinton edged out Sanders and went on to lose the presidential election to Donald Trump, an even more improbable notion at the time.
Now entering the thick of the 2020 presidential primary season, Sanders is once again positioned as one of the top candidates for the Democratic Party nomination after a crowded field, scuttling to face the perceived weak candidacy of a Donald Trump incumbency, has winnowed down to six prominent contenders hovering around 10% or better in national polls.
Sanders has certainly benefited thus far from the recent descent of Elizabeth Warren, a candidate perceived to be targeting a similar wing of the ideological left, and a split of voters between candidates seen to be among more centrist circles (at least within the center of the democratic base), though most candidates have seemed to veer heavily to the left of their most recent nominees in Clinton and Obama.
In anticipation of a highly contested vote, Sanders will be opening five field office in Michigan ahead of the primary early next month and hopes to win the state once again on the back of his antagonistic message against American billionaires and various industries at the center of what he claims are the root causes of Americans’ greatest ills. Offices will be opened in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids.