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March 7, 2016

Clinton and Trump aim to keep strong leads in Michigan primary

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Essential question

What are the strengths and weaknesses of a two-party system of government?


Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump show a sizable lead in the polls in Michigan, the largest of four states to hold primary contests on Tuesday. Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders will battle it out for Michigan’s 147 delegates on the Democratic side and the Republicans will compete to win their party’s 59 delegates in the Great Lakes state.

Clinton holds a strong lead with African-American voters in Michigan where polls show Sanders trailing behind by 30 points, according to Michigan Public Radio reporter Rick Pluto. Clinton has at least 1,123 delegates to Sanders’ 484; a Democratic candidate needs 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.

Sen. Ted Cruz who has won four primary contests hopes to beat front-runner Trump but not without a fight from Ohio Governor John Kasich who has spent a significant amount of time campaigning in Michigan. To win the nomination, a Republican candidate must win at least 1,237 delegates. Trump has 383 delegates and Cruz has 300, according to the Associated Press.

In the weekend’s “Super Saturday” contests, Clinton scored a large victory in Louisiana to maintain her significant delegate lead while Sanders won the Nebraska and Kansas caucuses. On the Republican side, Trump scored victories in Louisiana and Kentucky while Cruz won the Kansas and Maine caucuses. Florida Senator Marco Rubio won the Republican primary in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Clinton and Sanders debated in Flint, Mich. on Sunday night engaging in a heated discussion about free trade and Wall Street’s influence.


Key terms

free trade agreement – international trade left to its natural course without restrictions, including tariffs or quotas

crossover voters – refers to individuals who cast ballots for a political party with which they are not traditionally affiliated

delegates — individuals chosen to represent their state at the Republican and Democratic party conventions where each party selects its presidential candidate

primary — a preliminary election in which registered political party voters nominate candidates for office and choose delegates to attend their party’s convention

caucus — a meeting of the members of a particular political party, to select delegates who will eventually nominate their party’s presidential candidate

Warm up questions (before watching the video)
  1. Which candidates are currently in the lead on both the Democratic and Republican sides?
  2. Does your state hold a primary election or a caucus?
  3. Do you think the American public wants to hear candidates debate about substantial issues or candidates’ personalities?
Critical thinking questions (after watching the video)
  1. Why do you think both political parties pushed to hold debates in the state of Michigan?
  2. Would you consider yourself a potential crossover voter in this election? Explain.
  3. What would it take for Cruz and Sanders to pull ahead of Trump and Clinton, respectively?
  4. Candidates throughout the primaries have tried to court certain groups of voters, i.e. evangelical Christians, African-Americans, etc. How do candidates appeal to specific groups of people without the appearance of pandering (gratify or indulge) to them in order to win votes?
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