The Winner Of The Democratic Michigan Primary Really Needed The Great Lakes State

Super Tuesday may have touted a high number of states with voters heading to the polls, but what Super Tuesday 2 lacked in the number of elections it made up for in anxiety about its results. Even a couple of hours after the last polls closed, with two-thirds of the votes tallied in Michigan, the race between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was considered too close to call by election officials. Here's why the winner of the Michigan Democratic primary needed the state so badly, no matter who it was.

Taking the Great Lakes State didn't necessarily mean a monumental victory in terms of delegates, as polls projected a close race between the two candidates and the primary was not winner-take-all. So while more than 100 delegates were up for grabs in Michigan, experts expected that Sanders and Clinton would each take home somewhere in the range of half of the available delegates. With all the campaigning done by both candidates in the state in recent weeks, though, the symbolic significance of a victory in Michigan was real for both of them.

After waiting until close to 90 percent of votes were tallied, election officials declared Sanders to be the winner, with a two-percent lead over Clinton. And while Sanders played off Michigan in his Tuesday night press conference — which took place before the race was called in his favor — as a state where "basically the delegates ... [were] going to be split up," he also brought in the word "momentum." That's exactly what Michigan provided for the Vermont senator, and the victory — no matter how slight — is exactly what Sanders' campaign needed to keep him on the path to the Democratic National Convention in late July.

For Clinton, a win in Michigan would have further cemented the growing notion that she is the "inevitable" candidate, or the more electable candidate, or whatever you'd like to call it. Sanders has stated more than once that he will see his campaign at least to the convention, even if Clinton achieves the minimum number of delegates needed for the Party's nomination long before then. Clinton already has more than double the number of delegates as Sanders (though quite a few of those are superdelegates, who are free to change their allegiance as they see fit). Her every primary win seems to exponentially increase the slope of the mountain that Sanders must climb.

Clinton didn't get that kind of cushy confirmation on Tuesday night, though. Sanders took home one of the two states on Super Tuesday 2, proving he's still in it to win it.