Maine voters are going to caucus sites Sunday in large numbers, as predicted, to choose between Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders and front-runner Hillary Clinton, after they split wins in earlier voting this weekend.
Long lines are forming at some of the roughly 400 sites across the state, where Clinton and the Vermont senator will compete for 25 delegates.
On Saturday, Sanders won the Nebraska and Kansas caucuses, while Clinton took the bigger Louisiana primary, increasing her delegate count over Sanders 1,121 to 481.
That includes superdelegates — members of Congress, governors and party officials who can support the candidate of their choice. It takes 2,383 delegates to win the nomination.
Limited polling is available in Maine, where the polls will close at about the time Clinton and Sanders take part in a live CNN debate in Michigan.
To be sure, both are already focusing on Michigan, which in Tuesday’s primary also has 25 Democratic delegates up for grabs.
Clinton has a 20-point lead in the state, according to a RealClearPolitics poll average.
The economy will likely be a major topic in the debate in Flint, Mich. — a city in tough shape long before residents learned their drinking water was tainted with lead.
Clinton will likely argue that only she has a “credible strategy” for raising wages, while Sanders will presumably attack Clinton for past support of trade deals that he says had “disastrous” consequences for American workers.
In recent days, Clinton has laid out a plan for a “clawback” of tax benefits for companies that ship jobs overseas, using the money to encourage investment in the United States.
Sanders wrote in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press that nowhere are his differences with Clinton, a former secretary of state and senator, stronger than on trade.
He also renewed his criticism of Clinton’s support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and normalized trade relations with China.
“Not only did I vote against them,” he said, “I stood with workers on picket lines in opposition to them. Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton sided with corporate America and supported almost all of them.”
With Clinton continuing to widen her considerable lead in the Democratic delegate count, Sanders sees upcoming Midwestern primaries as a crucial opportunity to slow her momentum by highlighting his trade policies.
After Michigan’s vote on Tuesday, the March 15 primaries include Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.
“Geographically, we’re looking good,” Sanders said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “We have a path.”
Sanders acknowledged that his campaign has yet to connect with African-American voters, which hurt in him badly in his South Carolina loss last month to Clinton.
However, he argued that his insurgent campaign, based largely on a promise of economic equality and prosperity for the underclass, is making headway among young black voters.
“I think you’re going to see those numbers change,” Sanders told ABC.
In Michigan, manufacturing jobs have rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession, but their numbers are still much lower than they were 20 years ago.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.