‘Uncommitted’ gets over 100,000 votes in Michigan Primary

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28 Feb 2024, 8:11 am

Michigan's 100,000 'uncommitted' votes show Israel impact on Biden

Joe Biden's campaign and top Democratic officials vowed to double down on efforts to win over voters as the U.S. president aims to solve conflicts in the Middle East, after Michigan registered a stronger-than-anticipated protest vote over his support of Israel.

About 13.2% of Michigan Democrats cast a ballot for "uncommitted" in the primary, following a weeks-long push by activists, an Edison Research tally showed early Wednesday morning.
With about 85% of all votes counted, the uncommitted vote was already over 100,000 votes, far higher than expectations.

Turnout for the Democratic primary was also high, at some 900,000 voters overall; about 81% of those votes backed Biden.

Biden's staunch support for Israel's during its five-month war with Hamas that has decimated Gaza has sparked outrage and a well-organized backlash among progressive Democrats and Arab Americans, with Michigan as their epicenter.

They asked Biden to push for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and for sympathetic Democrats to vote "uncommitted" in the primary to signal Biden could lose their support in the November general election, aiming for 10,000 votes, a low figure historically. About 20,000 uncommitted votes were cast in Michigan's 2012 Democratic primary, the last time a Democratic president was up for reelection in Michigan.

Biden won Michigan by a less than 3% margin in 2020, and some polls show likely Republican candidate Donald Trump ahead in a head-to-head match-up this time.

Biden Michigan campaign manager Mike Frosolone told party organizers their efforts would pivot to the general-election effort in the state, with door-knocking, phone-banking and the opening of several offices statewide.

"We know when voters see President Biden and Donald Trump's record side by side, they're going to choose President Biden," he said. He said Biden would lay out this case in his State of the Union address on March 7.

Some 35% of Republicans backed former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley in the Michigan primary, a potential sign of weakness for Trump as well. Some of her voters have said they won't back Trump in a general election.

Any permanent solution to the Israel-Gaza conflict remains a long way off, and the death toll continues to climb, with an estimated one-quarter of the population close to famine. If Trump is reelected he is expected to be a strong supporter of Israel and its right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

A Reuters/IPSOS poll published Tuesday found "extremism" is the top worry for American voters going into the 2024 election, besting the economy or immigration, and that most judge Biden better equipped to deal with the issue.

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