Trump and Biden Win Michigan Primary − Gaza Protest Vote Gathers Solid Support

A man holds a sign as supporters of the campaign to vote “Uncommitted” hold a rally in support of Palestinians in Gaza, ahead of Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary election in Hamtramck, Michigan, February 25, 2024. (Reuters/Rebecca Cook)

DEARBORN, Michigan (Reuters) − U.S. President Joe Biden easily won the Democratic presidential primary in Michigan on Tuesday, Edison Research projected, but a protest vote by Democrats angry over his support for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza was showing signs of strength as initial returns were counted.

Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary in the state by a large margin, Edison Research projected, further strengthening his grip on the party’s White House nomination as Nikki Haley, his last remaining rival, came in a distant second.

Although Biden and Republican former President Trump had been expected to easily win their separate party primaries, the vote count for both was being closely watched for signs of wavering support.

In Michigan, home to a large Arab American constituency, Democratic voters had been urged to mark their primary ballots as “uncommitted” on Tuesday in protest at Biden’s Gaza policy.

Early returns showed Biden and Trump with solid leads. With 10% of the estimated Democratic vote counted, Biden had 79% support, with “uncommitted” getting 16%, and with 8% of the estimated Republican vote counted, Trump had 64% support to Haley’s 32%, according to Edison Research.

Michigan routinely offers an “uncommitted” option as a way of questioning whether a named candidate has the support of the party’s base.

Michigan is expected to play a decisive role in the head-to-head Nov. 5 U.S. presidential election, a likely rematch between Biden and Trump.

It is a battleground state that could swing toward either party. Biden beat Trump in Michigan by just 2.8 percentage points in the 2020 election.

Michigan turnout for former U.N. Ambassador Haley, who won nearly 40% of Republican votes in her home state of South Carolina on Saturday, was also being scrutinized for signs of vulnerability for Trump among moderates, whose support he would need in a general election.

Despite having lost to Trump in every primary race, Haley has performed well with moderate voters and has vowed to carry on despite having no clear path to the nomination.

Many in Michigan’s Arab American community who backed Biden in 2020 are now outraged, along with some progressive Democrats, over Biden’s support for Israel’s offensive in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Six voters Reuters interviewed at a polling place on Tuesday in Dearborn − a city with a large Arab population that is the epicenter of the pushback against Biden’s Israel strategy − said they were voting uncommitted. Another said he was voting for Trump.

Late on Monday, Biden said Israel had agreed to halt military activities in Gaza for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan expected to begin on the evening of March 10, as Hamas studied a draft for a truce that includes a prisoner-hostage exchange.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other Democrats have warned that if Democratic voters abandon Biden, they could hand the swing state and the country back to Trump in November. Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 election.

A senior Biden campaign official said: “We’re taking this seriously. The president himself has said repeatedly that he hears these demonstrators and that he thinks that their cause is important.”

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!