Apr 25, 2024 - News

Pennsylvania primary: Write-in votes spike against Biden

Photo illustration of Joe Biden over a blue background with elements of ballots.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A surge of Democratic voters cast write-in ballots in Pennsylvania's presidential primary on Tuesday, a potential warning for President Biden over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

Why it matters: Biden's stance on the war has hurt his support among Arab and Muslim American voters, whose large population in Pennsylvania could be essential to winning the key swing state in November.

Driving the news: More than 36,000 Democratic voters cast write-in votes in the presidential primary in seven of the most populous counties in the state, including Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, per county election websites.

  • The numbers far surpass write-in totals from the 2020 Democratic primary in those counties — about 14,200.
  • Statewide write-in vote totals won't be available for weeks, a spokesperson for the Department of State tells Axios.

The caveat: Pennsylvania doesn't offer voters an "uncommitted" option on the ballot, unlike in other states.

  • The result: We don't immediately know what voters wrote as election officials continue tallying votes.

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips took nearly 7% of the statewide vote, or about 69,000 votes, per the state's election website.

Reality check: Biden won the primary in Pennsylvania by 93% and is already the party's presumptive nominee.

Zoom out: Biden has faced protest votes in several other primaries, including Wisconsin and Michigan, over his handling of the war that began with the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

State of play: Pennsylvania's Muslim voters numbered about 168,000 in 2020, per a report from the national nonprofit Emgage.

By the numbers: The following are write-in votes cast in the presidential Democratic primary as of Wednesday compared to those in the 2020 primary, per county election websites.

What they're saying: Rabiul Chowdhury, chair of the Pennsylvania chapter of Abandon Biden, a national organization operating in more than 20 states, tells Axios that the group's write-in campaign against Biden signaled the loss of all support for the president.

  • "We'll abandon Biden in the primary and we'll abandon him in the fall as well," he said.
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