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Gaza protest vote overshadows Biden Michigan win

Joe Biden's coalition is looking shakier than first thought. Credit: Getty

February 28, 2024 - 7:30am

Last night in Michigan, President Joe Biden hit a bump on the road to his nomination for a second term. The presidential motorcade will keep rolling, but it is a sign that not all is well in the Democratic coalition.

In the weeks leading up to Michigan’s primary, progressives, Arab-American leaders, and other Michiganders in support of a ceasefire in the Gaza War joined together to call for a vote for uncommitted delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August, rather than delegates committed to vote for Biden, whom they view as too favourable to Israel.

Michigan Congresswoman and “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib was at the forefront of the effort. “I was proud today to walk in and pull a Democratic ballot and vote uncommitted,” she said in a video posted to X. “When 74 percent of Democrats in Michigan support a ceasefire, yet President Biden is not hearing us, this is the way we can use our democracy to say ‘listen to Michigan.’” As I write, the total uncommitted vote stands at 14 percent and is likely to rise when Detroit and its suburbs are fully counted, dramatically exceeding the 20,000 uncommitted votes from the 2012 Michigan primary.

Michigan is probably the top state for this kind of protest vote because of its large Arab-American population. If they can’t come close to beating Biden here, they won’t beat him anywhere. And for that reason, it’s likely that Biden and his people will simply ignore the protest. They may do some pro forma outreach, and if a ceasefire happens, they will take full credit for it. Beyond that, though, the president’s brain trust will likely gamble that no one who thinks Biden is too pro-Israel is going to turn around and vote for Donald Trump in November — one of the most pro-Israel presidents we’ve ever had. 

In this, they are mostly correct. The only problem is Michigan is a fiendishly competitive battleground state (Trump won it by 11,000 votes in 2016) and it is expected to be just as close this year. Biden must therefore be careful: he can’t afford an enthusiasm gap at a time when Trump’s popularity is rising. And he can’t afford the impression — increasingly common among young progressives — that he is no different than Trump on the question of Israel and Palestine.

Most of the far-Left dissenters will line up behind their party’s nominee in November. That is what a party’s base does, if not because they love him, then because they hate Donald Trump more. But any hint of apathy could have amplified effects in states like Michigan.

Biden’s renomination is not being derailed, but last night’s result shows that his coalition is looking a lot shakier than yesterday.


Kyle Sammin is the managing editor of Broad + Liberty. Follow him on Twitter at @KyleSammin.

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Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
4 months ago

Biden will not be the democratic candidate in the next election.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
4 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

In so many ways I hope not, but who else would it be? If there were to be a pro Palestinian standing against Trump it is highly likely the whole country would end up voting Trump or an independent.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Michelle Obama.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
4 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

She’s the best option to win in 2024, but won’t change any of the long term trends that are against the Democratic party. Once Trump is out of the picture, there’s a better than even chance another outsider candidate will again defeat the still incompetent, still out of touch, Romney/Cheney wing of the Republican party but make a far better case for populism with a far broader appeal. I wouldn’t blame Barack or Michelle for reading the tea leaves and deciding they’ve sacrificed enough for the globalist cause. Perhaps they don’t want to be tied inextricably to what is starting to look like a lost cause in the grand scheme of history. Nobody wants to share a legacy with Mikail Gorbachev, Louis XVI, Herbert Hoover, Jefferson Davis, Nicholas II, etc. and make no mistake, there’s a distinct possibility Biden or Michelle or whoever else manages to beat Trump in 2024 will still have history turn decisively against them and be defeated in a practical sense long before 2028 rolls around. It’s possible to believe strongly in a personal worldview and still understand intellectually that said worldview is eventually going to lose, for a long time if not forever.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
4 months ago

Here’s hoping for a depressed Democrat turnout in swing states in November. Fingers crossed it will help Trump win, and fingers crossed progressives will turn on each other blaming one another for the outcome

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
4 months ago

Only .5% of the United States is of Arab decent…while 2.4% is Jewish. If you consider Muslims (which the author probably had in mind), which would include Ilhan Omar’s Somali constituency in Minnesota, then you’re still only talking 1.1% of the U.S. citizenry.
I’m a Jewish-American. I’ve voted as a Democrat for 48 years. I’ll never vote for the current pro-Hamas, anti-Israel, antisemitic Democratic party again…unless it vanquishes the Progressive wing of idiots who are calling the shots now, though they represent a super-minority of the Democrats in Congress, and of the total voting population in this country.
Don’t let the weekly front-and-center pro-Hamas protests fool you…most Americans support Israel…that’s 66% (according to 2023 Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll). Try to find a poll showing that a majority of Americans support Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt…or the so called Palestinian people. It doesn’t exist.

Terry M
Terry M
4 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

Abe, maybe it’s time to reconsider many of the other Democratic policies about the border, sex/gender fluidity, spending, reparations, etc. and consider Mr. Trump. He may speak like an idiot but he governed as a moderate with a successful foreign policy in the ME and elsewhere.
Personally, I don’t consider the % of the population, I consider the actions of the Hamas/Palestinians vs those of Israel/Jews. The former are brutal terrorists with no respect for human life including of their own people. The latter are peaceful members of the world community, respectful of their neighbors until attacked, caught in the most difficult circumstance one can imagine. Actions speak louder than words.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
4 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

You are right, that overall support in the US is pro-Israel, but these pockets of pro-Palestinian activists tend to be highly organized and they have an influence out of proportion to their number.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
4 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

What Democratic strategist decided the public face of the party needed to be a motley collection of tiny screeching minorities that might not account for 5% of the American population between them backed by an equally unpopular Washington/Wall Street establishment blob? I really don’t understand what anyone in the party leadership is thinking these days. They seem to be dead set on shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly for the sake of some silly ideological dogma or for no particular reason at all.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
4 months ago

If Cornel West, who is strongly marketing himself to Muslim Americans and progressives sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and who consider Biden too right-wing, can get on the ballot in Michigan, it’s trouble for Biden.

Robert Pruger
Robert Pruger
4 months ago

Kyle Sammin’s prognostication that the base will fall in line has a long well earned pedigree. But this in-party fight looks different.
Regardless which country an American Muslim emigrated from or where their parents/grandparents came from, as a group, they have exhibited as much fealty to the Palestinians as Jews did to Israel in the 1950s and after the Six Day War. It is heartfelt to its core. There is nothing in their orbit that contradicts their belief that Israel is illegitimate and Israelis oppressors. To them, Israel will always be illegitimate.
American Muslims largely seem astonished that their protests have had little effect on U.S. policy. Their reaction to this affront (and it is at least that) is to punish. They understand that if they vote for Biden in November they will be dismissed as noisy but pliant. Foreign policy rarely is a deciding factor in swaying voters. But in this instance, the Hamas/Israel conflict is paramount and they have nothing to lose. For spite or for cultural reasons they may in large numbers withhold their vote for Biden, or praise be to Allah, vote Trump.
Should Biden lose (right now that seems likely) their hand would be strengthened within the Democrat party going forward and American Jews will move towards the Republican party and one piece of the political realignment will fall into place.