Michigan’s ‘Abandon Biden’ Movement Over Key Issue Could Spread To Other States 

The most startling takeaway from Tuesday’s Michigan presidential primaries was the more than 100,000 Michigan Democrats who refused to support President Joe Biden as their nominee largely due to his stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

Michigan Democrats cast 101,449 votes labeled as “uncommitted” in a furious protest-vote in theDemocratic primary on Tuesday, while handing an approximately 20,000 votes apiece to Democratic challengers Marianne Williamson and Rep. Dean Phillips.This resulted in close to 150,000 votes cast against Biden in a primary thatshould have been a slam-dunk. Biden won the primary with 623,500 votes — over200,000 votes short of his 2020 numbers. 

The protest-vote campaignwas largely fueled by young Arab Americans and sympathizers who take issue withBiden’s stance on the war in Gaza. Anti-Biden activists formed the “Listen to Michigan” and “Abandon Biden” campaigns in Michigan and spent weeks urging Democrats to deny Biden their votes in an attempt to force him to withdraw support for Israel.   

According to NPR, much of the “Abandon Biden” movementis led by young, elected leaders and their followers — including 30-year-oldState. Rep. Abraham Aiyash — who are withholding support from Biden unless hesupports a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. 

The protest-vote inMichigan is simply one indicator of the fragmentation the Biden coalition isexperiencing since 2020, with Biden suffering steeps declines in support amongyoung people, women, and minorities — including Arab Americans.   

According to an election survey conducted by The Councilon American-Islamic Relations and its Michigan chapter, a full 94% ofMuslim-Americans who voted in the Democratic primary on Tuesday voted“uncommitted.” Just 4.6% supported Biden, according to the organization. 

The poll also found if theelection for president were held now, more Muslim Americans would support formerPresident Donald Trump, 13%, than would support Joe Biden, 8%. A majority ofMuslim voters said they’d support a yet to be determined “other candidate” at40%. A quarter said they’d support third-party candidate Cornel West, and 8%said they’d support Robert F. Kennedy Jr., while 7% said they’d support JillStein.   

The Muslim vote is on therise, particularly in contentious battleground states. According to Emgage USA, a group focused onpolitical engagement among Muslim voters, 2020 resulted in approximately 1.1million votes cast by Muslim Americans, an increase of 2 percentage pointscompared to 2016.  

The Muslim-American vote isrelatively small nationwide — 1.5 million voters — but these voters areconcentrated in pivotal swing states and played a role in Biden’s successes in2020. In Michigan four years ago, Biden won the state by just over 150,000votes.

With the Muslim-Americanvote concentrated in pivotal battleground states — most notably Michigan,Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia — the harsh departure from Biden could cutinto his margins in November.   

As much as Muslim Americansbroadly supported Biden in 2020, the Israel-Hamas conflict has greatlydeteriorated that support, and there are now indicators that Muslim Americansare retracting their support. Although a majority seem to want a third alternativeto either Biden or Trump, it is worth noting that a segment of Muslim-Americansnow prefers Trump over Biden. 

The root of this swing isBiden’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war, but there is room to speculate thatBiden’s handling of domestic issues — such as the economy, housing, andimmigration — are also a driving factor in his loss of support among ArabAmericans. 

Bill Wilson is the formerpresident of Americans for Limited Government. 

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