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Biden Wins Michigan Primary Amid Gaza Conflict Backlash

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Biden Wins Michigan Primary Amid Gaza Conflict Backlash

(CTN News) – President Joe Biden is expected to easily win Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary despite a big protest vote over the United States’ strong backing for Israel in the Gaza war.

According to forecasts, Mr Biden received 80% of the vote, while the “uncommitted” outperformed expectations by 13%.

His campaign will be watching closely to see if the results in the important swing state spread nationwide.

Many voters have been outraged by the US position in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Listen to Michigan activists praising the “uncommitted” vote, which exceeded 100,000, as a win.

Similar protests are brewing in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, and the outcome could bolster them.

People were in tears during the organisation’s watch party as tallies were updated regularly.

Former congressman Andy Levin, who supports the “uncommitted” vote, told the audience, “I have no joy in being here today. People are dying by the thousands, so this is a necessary moment.”

The United States is Israel’s close ally, giving it billions of dollars in military aid.

Earlier this month, the United States vetoed a UN resolution asking for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza while also submitting its draft demanding a temporary cease-fire.

Many individuals, including members of Biden’s party, want the president to take a firmer stand against Israel’s military action.

On the eve of the Michigan vote, Mr Biden expressed hope that hostilities in Gaza would cease by Monday, a statement that neither Israel nor Hamas reiterated.

Mr Trump is also expected to win the state’s Republican primary on Tuesday, following what he dubbed a “great day”.

So far, the results of the primary races, which US political parties use to select their presidential candidate, show that the two men are on track to face off in November’s general election, a repeat from 2020.

Michigan is considered a vital swing state, having chosen the winning president in the previous two elections. It boasts the highest population of Arab-Americans in the country, but Mr Biden’s support for Israel looks to have cost him favour from that community.

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The Gaza conflict began on October 7, when Hamas launched an onslaught in southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and kidnapping more than 250.

Since then, Israel has begun a large military offensive in Palestinian land, claiming to be able to eliminate Hamas.

The retaliatory campaign, however, has killed 29.974 people and injured 70,325 others, the majority of them are civilians, according to the Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run Health Ministry.

The high toll has prompted international criticism of Israel and calls for a ceasefire.

Tuesday is not the first time a sizable proportion of Michigan voters chose to vote as “uncommitted.” Around 19,000 residents did so in the 2020 primary, and more than 21,601 did so in 2016.

In 2008, it was 238,000 when Barack Obama’s campaign encouraged people to do so, while he elected not to run owing to party disagreements.

However, campaigners in Michigan have been organising for months to send Biden a message of “no ceasefire, no vote” over the Gaza conflict.

The BBC met with Hala, 32, at Salina Intermediate School in Dearborn, who said she voted “uncommitted”.

She didn’t “want to vote for Genocide Joe,” she said, referring to claims made against the Israeli military during its assault in Gaza, which Israel firmly rejects.

Hala declined to provide her last name and said she had previously voted for Mr Biden but was unsure if she would do so again in the presidential race. “Maybe, if he calls for an immediate ceasefire, but he’s not going to do that,” she added.

Other Democrats, including Kim Murdough, an office manager at a church in Flint, told the BBC on election day that they continued to support Mr Biden.

“I voted Democratic. “I have no issues with anything the administration has done,” she stated.

She also stated that her concerns about Mr Biden’s age – 81 – were not a deal-breaker. “I’d rather have someone in office that forgets a few things than a criminal,” she said, referring to Mr Trump, who is facing federal and state criminal accusations.

Margaret Won also voted for Mr. Biden. She is generally pleased with the president’s efforts but notes that Republicans in Congress have thwarted some of his goals.

She stated that she wishes the top presidential candidates were younger and that if Nikki Haley defeats Donald Trump for the Republican candidature, she may receive her vote.

Ms Haley has yet to win a primary against Mr Trump, a trend that continued on Tuesday.

Like dozens of other states, Michigan has open primary elections, which means Democrats, Republicans, and independents can all vote, though they must request a specific party’s ballot.

The remaining Republican delegates in the state, which must be collected for a contender to win their party’s nomination, will be formally given later this weekend during a convention.

During the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, the “uncommitted” movement received support from at least 39 state and municipal elected figures in Michigan, including Rashida Tlaib and Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud.

Ms Tlaib’s sister was the campaign manager for the Listen to Michigan campaign, which intended to gain 10,000 “uncommitted” votes – the nominal margin by which Mr Biden won the state in the previous presidential election.

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

Another woman, who did not want to be identified, told the BBC that she had moved to the Republican party due to the Middle Eastern crisis.

Senator Gary Peters of Michigan told reporters at a conference hosted by the Biden campaign on Monday that the president understood voters’ worries over Gaza.

However, the White House has been hesitant to withdraw its backing, giving billions of dollars in military aid to Israel and three times opposing a UN Security Council resolution for a quick ceasefire.

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