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Biden wins Michigan primary amid backlash over Israel-Hamas conflict

President Biden was projected to win the Michigan Democratic primary, according to Decision Desk HQ, scoring a critical win in the battleground state.

Biden won Michigan back in 2020, but has seen recent pushback from progressives and Arab Americans in the state over his administration’s actions amid the Israel-Hamas war. 

An option on the ballot for voters to pick “uncommitted” had so far garnered more than 20,000 votes, far exceeding the relatively modest goal of 10,000 votes that the organizers of the campaign had set for themselves.

The organizers of the “Listen to Michigan” campaign, backed by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), urged voters to select the “uncommitted” option in order to send the president a message of dissatisfaction over the war in Gaza.  

“It’s … important to create a voting bloc, something that is a bullhorn to say, ‘enough is enough,’” said Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, in a video shared by “Listen to Michigan.” “We don’t want a country that supports wars and bombs and destruction. We want to support life. We want to stand up for every single life killed in Gaza.” 

Also on the primary ballot were Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson, who has dropped out of the running. 

Back in 2008, then-candidate Hillary Clinton won her party’s Michigan primary with 55 percent of the vote — but with rival Barack Obama left off the ballot, 40 percent picked “uncommitted,” according to results tallies from the New York Times.  

Polling showed Biden with a massive lead over Williamson and Phillips heading into the 2024 primary in Michigan, and he scored a major endorsement from United Auto Workers (UAW), which is headquartered in Detroit.  

The incumbent has so far won the Democratic primaries in South Carolina and Nevada, plus a victory as a write-in candidate in New Hampshire — and his Michigan win adds to his early-state record and further cements his strength as the likely Democratic nominee.

But the campaign is seeing warning signs in its reception from the state’s significant Arab American communities as the race revs toward the general election. Top Biden administration officials visited Michigan in February to outreach with community leaders amid the frustration.

In a statement on Tuesday’s results, Biden made no direct mention of the “uncommitted” effort, but thanked “every Michigander who made their voice heard today.” 

“Exercising the right to vote and participating in our democracy is what makes America great,” Biden said.

He touted his work in the state and pointed toward the general election, stressing the danger of another Trump term. 

“Donald Trump is threatening to drag us even further into the past as he pursues revenge and retribution,” Biden said. “Now, Donald Trump wants to ban abortion nationwide – including here in Michigan.”

With former President Trump leading the Republican primary battle, the race appears headed toward a rematch of the 2020 race between Biden and Trump. Polling averages from Decision Desk HQ/The Hill show Trump with a 2.6-point lead in a hypothetical head-to-head between the current and former presidents in Michigan.

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