President Joe Biden’s supporters are trying to minimize the results of a protest vote in Michigan’s presidential primary over his stance on the Israel-Hamas war.
More than 13% of Democrats marked “uncommitted” Tuesday. The “Listen to Michigan” campaign had asked Democrats to make that choice to show their frustration with Biden’s failure to endorse a ceasefire in the war. The vote in the critical swing state may prompt the president to more strongly pressure Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to halt Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.
But the vote won’t hurt Biden’s chances in November, said many of the president’s allies.
“It matters if people are expressing themselves in ways that suggest they are going to walk away,” David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist and former adviser to President Barack Obama, said on CNN. “It’s one thing to register your discontent with the president in a primary. It’s another thing in a race against Donald Trump.” Former President Donald Trump, who lost to Biden in 2020, is seeking a second term.
Organizers of the protest vote had said they wanted at least 10,000 Democrats to vote “uncommitted” — which has long been an option on Michigan ballots. But the count showed the campaign had surpassed that goal even before polls closed at 9 p.m.
‘Friction’ among Democrats
With 98% of the ballots counted, “uncommitted” received 100,960 votes. Listen to Michigan supporters said Biden should understand those votes as a rebuke. He disregards Arab Americans and progressives in Michigan at his electoral peril, they said.
“Our movement emerged victorious tonight and massively surpassed our expectations,” said Layla Elabed, the protest campaign’s manager. “Tens of thousands of Michigan Democrats, many of whom voted for Biden in 2020, are uncommitted to his re-election due to the war in Gaza.”
Michigan is home to the largest Arab American population in the nation.