MILWAUKEE, April 5 (UPI) -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he had serious momentum after winning the Wisconsin primary over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night. It was Sanders' seventh victory out of the past eight primaries.
With about half the state totals reported, Sanders had 56 percent to Clinton's 43 percent of the vote. The victory breathed new life into his campaign and upended the narrative that Clinton is certain to be the Democratic party's nominee.
Clinton still leaves the Badger State with a lead in delegates and by far the best chance of winning the nomination. But the race in Wisconsin could also prove a tipping point for Sanders, who spent most of the campaign so far trying to convince people that he does, in fact, have a shot.
"Momentum is starting this campaign 11 months ago with the media determining we were a fringe candidacy," he told supporters. "Momentum is when you look at national and state-wide polls, we are defeating Donald Trump by very significant numbers."
The last time Sanders scored a game-changing victory, it was in a state, Michigan, that is similar in many respects to Wisconsin. Polls in Michigan were uniformly wrong, predicting Clinton would cruise to an easy win there.
This time around, a Sanders victory is not a huge surprise. Polling had steadily shown him with a small lead. Sanders hammered Clinton in Michigan over her position on free trade. Wisconsin, which has also suffered industrial job losses over a generation, is potentially ripe for that same message.
Both Clinton and Sanders have delivered unsparing attacks on the state's controversial governor, Scott Walker, whose anti-union crusade led to a massive political battle and a bitter recall election that Democrats lost.
As much as Clinton and Sanders have fought for a victory in Wisconsin, both have also had one eye on the much larger prize looming: New York, which votes in two weeks.
Clinton and Sanders have both already kicked off their New York campaigns, discarding the traditional political logic that campaigning in the next state before the last one has voted might irk some party loyalists.
Much of the debate over the closing days of the Wisconsin race has not been about trade policy or unions, but whether the two candidates will debate one another -- in New York. They have spent the last week trading barbs and pointing fingers in a political blame-game over their failure to schedule a debate sometime before April 19.
They finally agreed Tuesday to debate in Brooklyn on April 14.