Trump and Biden projected to win Michigan primaries

Connie Queline

Trump and Biden projected to win Michigan primaries

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President Joe Biden is projected to win Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary, according to the BBC’s US partner CBS News.

CBS also projects a win for Donald Trump in the Republican contest.

Mr Biden’s expected win is despite a protest vote in the swing state over his stance towards Israel’s war in Gaza. The size of this remains unclear.

Grassroots organisations urged Democrats to vote “uncommitted” rather than cast a ballot for the president.

Still, with 15% of the vote in, Mr Biden was winning by 79%, according to CBS. Around 22,000 “uncommitted” votes had been counted.

Mr Trump was beating Ms Haley 66% to 29% with 16% of the ballots counted.

Mr Biden is largely unopposed in the Democratic Party’s search for a nominee, meaning he is on course to face off in November’s presidential election against Donald Trump – in a rematch of 2020.

The former president has beaten his rival Nikki Haley in all primaries so far to lead her in the race for Republican delegates. Not all of Michigan’s available delegates are being awarded after Tuesday’s vote.

Michigan is one of a handful of major swing states that each party’s nominee will battle for in 2024. Mr Trump won it in 2016, helping propel him to the presidency. But Mr Biden flipped it back in 2020, taking the state by around 150,000 votes.

Tuesday was not the first time a significant portion of Michiganders opted to cast votes as “uncommitted”. Around 19,000 residents did so in the Michigan presidential primary in 2020 and more than 21,601 did in 2016. In 2008 it was 238,000 – after Barack Obama’s campaign encouraged them to do so, because he chose not to be on the presidential primary ballot due to party squabbles.

But campaigners in Michigan have been organising for months to send Mr Biden a message of “no ceasefire, no vote” over the war in Gaza. Tuesday’s primary was their first chance to send a statement.

The state has the largest proportion of Arab Americans in the country. Nationwide, 64% of Muslim voters backed Mr Biden in 2020, according to the AP News agency.

Frustrated with Mr Biden’s backing of Israel during the war, some of his supporters said they had changed their minds.

  • Gaza residents surviving off animal feed and rice as food dwindles
  • Israel-Hamas war: Biden hopes for ceasefire by next week

At Salina Intermediate School in Dearborn – across the railroad tracks from a sprawling Ford factory – the BBC spoke to Hala, 32, who said she voted “uncommitted”.

She did not “want to vote for Genocide Joe”, she explained – alluding to allegations made against the Israeli military during its campaign in Gaza, which Israel strongly denies.

In her heavily Arab-American community, “vote here” signs were translated in Arabic, as well as the pamphlets volunteers handed out encouraging voters to “Abandon Biden”.

Hala – who declined to share her last name for privacy reasons – said she voted for Mr Biden last time, but was was not sure she would do so again when the presidential election came round. “Maybe, if he calls for an immediate ceasefire, but he’s not going to do that,” she said.

Other Democrats remain supportive of Mr Biden, including Kim Murdough, an office manager at a church in the city of Flint.

Kim Murdough

“I voted Democrat. I personally don’t have an issue with anything that the administration has done,” she said.

She added that concerns about Mr Biden’s age – 81 – were not a deal-breaker for her. “I’d rather have someone in office that forgets a few things than a criminal,” she said, referencing Mr Trump, who faces federal and state criminal charges.

Margaret Won voted for Mr Biden, too. She is mostly happy with the work Mr Biden has done, though said he had been blocked in some of his aims by Republicans in Congress.

She said she wished the frontrunner presidential candidates were younger and said if Ms Haley beat Mr Trump to the Republican nomination, she might get her vote.

Like dozens of other states, Michigan has open primary elections – which means Democrats, Republicans and independents were all able to vote in Tuesday’s contest, though they had to ask for a specific party’s ballot when casting their vote.

Unlike Democrats, the state’s Republican delegates will be formally awarded later at a state convention on 2 March.

But in the wake of the war, the movement has gained endorsements from at least 39 state and local elected officials, including congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud.

“I was proud today to walk in and pull a Democratic ballot and vote uncommitted,” Ms Tlaib said in a video shared to social media. Her sister was the campaign manager for Listen to Michigan campaign, which aimed to score 10,000 “uncommitted” votes.

Samraa Luqman, an activist with the Abandon Biden campaign, said her goal was to “oust somebody from office for having this many lives lost without calling for a ceasefire”.

Samraa Luqman

One woman told the BBC she had even changed parties over the Israel-Hamas conflict. “I always vote Democrat, but this year I voted Republican because of Palestine, because of the massacre of Palestine,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

Senator Gary Peters, from Michigan, told reporters at a meeting arranged by the Biden campaign on Monday that the president understood voters’ concerns about Gaza.

However, the White House has been reluctant to row back its support, sending billions of dollars in military aid to Israel and three times blocking a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Instead the US has called for a pause in fighting and defended Israel’s right to hunt down the Hamas gunmen who killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel on 7 October. Meanwhile, the death toll in Gaza is nearly 30,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-led health ministry.

Speaking earlier this week, Mr Biden said he hoped there would be a ceasefire by Monday – following reports of some progress in indirect negotiations involving Israeli and Hamas officials..

Michigan’s presidential primary election also came after months of dysfunction among Michigan’s Republican leaders. Earlier this year, the party voted to oust its chair, Trump supporter and election-denier Kristina Karamo, over party in-fighting and fundraising issues.

She had declined to step down from her post, arguing the vote to remove her was illegitimate. A Michigan judge found on Tuesday that she had been properly removed.

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Related Topics

  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Michigan
  • Joe Biden

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