Over 100,000 'uncommitted' votes in Michigan primary over Biden's support of Israel's Gaza war

Over 100,000 'uncommitted' votes in Michigan primary over Biden's support of Israel's Gaza war
On Tuesday, a coalition led by Arabs and Muslims in Michigan made a strong statement against Biden's re-election bid over his support of Israel's war on Gaza.
3 min read
Washington, DC
28 February, 2024
In Michigan, "uncommitted" voters made a statement in the presidential primary. [Getty]

A coalition led by Arabs and Muslims in southeastern Michigan made a strong statement of resistance against US President Joe Biden's re-election bid by voting "uncommitted" in the Tuesday presidential primary, in response to his continued support for Israel's war on Gaza.

As of 1 am Wednesday Michigan time, with around 81 per cent of the votes reported, more than 100,000 Michiganders had cast their ballots as "uncommitted", largely as a protest against Biden's Middle East policies. This number will likely approach the 150,000 votes that Biden won against Trump in Michigan in 2020, far exceeding the 10,000 votes that gave Trump his victory against Hillary Clinton in the state.

Though Biden comfortably won with more than 81 per cent of his party's support, the bigger story Tuesday night was the high turnout of uncommitted voters.

"Dearborn truly set the tone for the Arab and Muslim communities at large. It was very gratifying to see young people today working at the polls. Today, it was more of a general election mood," Imad Hamad, executive of the American Human Rights Council, told The New Arab

Live Story

"We had a great segment from different communities who embrace the campaign. The message here is the community is very serious about its commitment to hold Biden accountable for the ongoing genocide," he said, adding that unseasonably warm weather might have worked in their favour. "Everyone agreed that the bottom line was to not vote for Biden."

The Abandon Biden movement was announced in early December by community leaders in swing states after around two months of continuous Israeli bombardment of Gaza following a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel. With the war now entering its sixth month with more than 100,000 Palestinian casualties, including 30,000 deaths, the movement is only growing.   

In Dearborn and surrounding areas, residents have been displaying yard and car signs reading "Abandon Biden" — a level of enthusiasm normally reserved for supporting popular candidates, not anti-candidate movements.

"People were very determined to come out and vote. The community was encouraged big-time to go out and vote," Sufian Nabhan, executive director of the Islamic Center of Detroit, told TNA.

"Uncommitted" votes accounted for more than 15.5 per cent of Democratic votes, drawing around ten times more votes than Biden's opponents on the ballot, Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson (who has dropped out of the race). 

The breakdown between parties for those who voted "uncommitted" was around 78,000 Democrats and 28,000 Republicans, possibly a sign of the unpopularity of all of the candidates from both parties. The "uncommitted" turnout for Republicans is significant, given that there hasn't been a high-profile intra-party campaign against Trump.

Hamad believes that Biden's support for Israel's war on Gaza is turning many longtime Democratic voters to the Republican Party, though not necessarily because they adhere to the party's policies.

"Some people are saying they're voting for former President Trump. They feel that if they vote Republican, that will send a much stronger message," he said.

It remains to be seen how Michigan's "uncommitted" voters will affect Biden's re-election bid. What was clear on Tuesday was their ability to draw the world's attention to the importance of their vote.