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Opinion: Hillary’s balancing act

It's a Democratic tie: Clinton scores in Mississippi, Sanders in Michigan. On the Republican side, Donald Trump emerges as the winner once again. The US primary race is still undecided, writes Ines Pohl.

And, once again, anything is possible. While Hillary Clinton was able to win the important state of Mississippi in the latest round of primaries, she suffered a surprising defeat against Bernie Sanders in Michigan. This will be especially stinging for Clinton because her opponent succeeded in weakening her with deliberate attacks against her economic platform.

Michigan and its industrial hub Detroit have hemorrhaged tens of thousands of well-paying jobs over the past decades. In a state where labor unions are traditionally strong, its members apparently feel that a market with stricter regulations would keep more jobs in the United States. There are many reasons why those losing out to globalization are receptive to the economic promises made by Sanders.

Pohl Ines Kommentarbild App

DW's Ines Pohl

Clinton does not yet need to worry about having lost the Michigan delegates. What should worry her, however, is the fact that she does not connect as well with white working-class voters as she hoped she would.

As a consequence, it won't be easy to come up with a political strategy that attracts votes from Sanders' ideological base without scaring off her support from business and industry.

Bernie Sanders for his part does not need to be concerned about balancing different loyalties. Strengthened by his latest success, he can now switch into full attack mode.

A new candidate emerging?

Similarly, this election night also leaves Republicans with key questions unanswered. Donald Trump was able to score decisive victories against his opponents in Mississippi and Michigan.

But it is becoming increasingly likely that at the end of the primaries, he will not have won enough votes to secure the Republican nomination. The party could then nominate another candidate, even if Trump were to win the most votes.

Consequently, it's now time for the election math wizards to weigh in. The headlines will be dominated by the question whether it would be better for Marco Rubio to drop out or stay in the race despite a likely defeat in his home state of Florida. Or whether it would hurt Donald Trump even more if John Kasich - who, like Rubio, has no real chance of getting the nomination - remained in the race.

Another question is of course who a potential dark horse candidate could be – a figure who would be able to simultaneously edge out Trump without tearing the party apart.

Next week the primaries continue in Florida, and it certainly looks like we won't know who the nominees are - even after the next round of primaries.

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