Michigan’s 100,000 ‘Uncommitted’ Votes Question Biden’s Position on Israel

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is facing a challenging task of uniting his party following a significant protest vote from Michigan Democrats in response to his support of Israel’s military actions against Hamas in Gaza.

Despite winning Tuesday’s primary with 81% of the vote after 95% of the votes were counted, more than 100,000 people, or 13%, cast “uncommitted” ballots in protest against Biden’s stance on Israel’s military offensive, which has resulted in numerous Palestinian casualties.

Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris did not address the Gaza or Israel situation in their statements regarding Michigan’s primary results, leading to criticism from organizers of the uncommitted vote movement.

A Biden campaign official stated on Wednesday that the results indicate that Biden’s core supporters remain loyal to him but emphasized that the Arab American and Muslim American populations will not be taken for granted.

The official highlighted that the president is working towards establishing long-term peace in the Middle East, approaching the issue not as a politician but as a commander-in-chief.

A Harvard-Harris poll from February shows that overall, Democrats approve of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict by 61%.

Michigan became the focal point of backlash due to Biden’s early and firm support of Israel without conditions on military aid, sparking outrage and a coordinated protest movement.

Michigan organizers are calling on Biden to advocate for a lasting ceasefire in Gaza and to cease military aid to Israel, threatening to abstain from voting for Biden in the general election in November.

The Biden administration has evolved in its criticism of Israel, proposing a temporary ceasefire resolution at the U.N. Security Council but vetoing a measure for a permanent ceasefire.

While there have been talks about a temporary ceasefire for Ramadan between Israel and Hamas, a comprehensive agreement remains elusive.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated Biden’s commitment to a potential truce and prisoner-hostage exchange, recognizing the difficulty of the situation.

The Michigan Democratic officials have pledged to intensify their efforts to appeal to voters following the primary results, where Biden won by a slim margin in 2020.

Biden’s campaign manager in Michigan emphasized the transition to the general election campaign, stressing the comparison of Biden’s record with that of Donald Trump to persuade voters in the state.

As Biden and Trump both face concerns about age and approval ratings, the electoral landscape remains uncertain. Trump’s strong support for Israel under Netanyahu contrasts with the evolving stance of the Biden administration.

An Ipsos poll published on Tuesday indicates that “extremism” is a top concern for American voters in the upcoming election, with most viewing Biden as better equipped to address the issue.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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