February 26, 2024 - 6:30pm

President Joe Biden is facing a serious setback in Michigan, a key swing state he won by three points in 2020. 

Among Democratic primary voters under the age of 30, 28% plan to vote “uncommitted” rather than cast a vote for Biden in Michigan on Tuesday, according to a new Emerson poll. Such a vote would be more symbolic than practical — the President is still projected to win the primary by a massive margin — but it demonstrates a lack of enthusiasm that could haunt him come November. 

Dean Phillips, the long-shot Democratic challenger, wins 5% of the primary votes in the state, while 12% are undecided and 9% plan to vote “uncommitted”, the poll has found. 

The poll also has Trump winning Michigan 46-44, with the likely GOP candidate winning among male voters by a 12-point margin and Biden winning women by five points. Meanwhile the economy, an issue on which Trump outperforms Biden significantly, was the top issue for Michigan voters. 

The President’s support for Israel in the Gaza war has hurt his standing with Arab and Muslim-American voters, many of whom live in Michigan — a fact that could have a significant impact on the general election. Biden won Michigan by only 154,000 votes in 2020, and the state is home to about 200,000 individuals of Arab descent.

But Gaza has also hurt Biden with young voters, who are critical of the President’s handling of the ongoing war. “Listen to Michigan”, a campaign organised by Rashida Tlaib’s sister Layla Elabed, is urging Democrats to vote “uncommitted” on Tuesday. It’s part of a broader effort from Democrats to send a message to the President about Gaza. 

“We’re okay with going through those four years of hell once again, so long as the genocide stops. So long as the person that has committed the genocide is ousted from office, hopefully that will send a signal to the next administration”, Samraa Luqman, chair of the Abandon Biden Campaign in Michigan, told CBS News

Biden’s advanced age is also a factor in his low popularity among young voters, the Emerson poll found. For voters under 50, his age raises doubts about voting for him, compared to 53% of voters over 50. While Trump himself is 77 years old, this is less of a deterrent to his base: 73% of Democrats think Biden is too old to serve as president, while only 35% of Republicans think the same of Trump, a recent poll found. 

The Emerson polling is the latest in a series of surveys finding Biden losing the youth advantage on which the Democrats can usually rely. Trump was leading leading Biden in five out of six swing states, including Michigan, in a November poll from the New York Times. In a tight presidential race, losing his edge among young voters may just cost the incumbent his reelection.

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.