Feb 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Michigan's "uncommitted" vote sounds alarm for Biden

Joe Biden at a podium

President Joe Biden in Bay City, Michigan in November 2022. Photo: Nic Antaya/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a warning for November, tens of thousands of Michigan Democratic primary voters cast ballots for "uncommitted" instead of President Biden.

Why it matters: The war in Gaza has hurt Biden with some of the Arab American and Muslim voters who were key to his 2020 win in the swing state.

Data: Associated Press; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Associated Press; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: The war has become a symbol for what many see as disrespect for Arab Americans' longtime contributions to American life.

  • Biden's early support for Israel's assault on Palestinians in Gaza was a tipping point.
  • "This is not an Arab issue. It's not a Muslim issue. This is an issue of morality," Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud told Axios on Tuesday before voting "uncommitted."

State of play: Biden said Monday his "hope" is that Israel and Hamas reach a ceasefire agreement next week, Axios' Barak Ravid reported.

  • His administration has been trying to secure a hostage deal that could lead to a six-week pause in the fighting in Gaza before the start of Ramadan.

Biden was previously targeted in New Hampshire's primary with an unsuccessful "ceasefire" write-in campaign, but Michigan has significant Muslim and Arab American populations.

  • Adam Abusalah, a Dearborn native who worked on Biden's 2020 campaign but pushed for the "uncommitted" vote this year, previously told Axios that the campaign is "a warning to Biden like, get your s--t together or you're going to lose."

Zoom out: Arab American and Muslim Michiganders voted more Republican until the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s, but signs suggest some could be shifting back to the right.

  • The Arab American Institute previously told Axios that since the group began tracking Arab American attitudes in 1996, the population has leaned Democratic — with gradual shifts to the GOP.
  • But the group's recent polling has shown a significant drop in support for Biden.
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