Joe Biden wins Michigan primary but hit with 100,000 'uncommitted' votes in major Gaza protest

Joe Biden wins Michigan primary but hit with 100,000 'uncommitted' votes in major Gaza protest

US President Joe Biden won the Democratic primary vote in Michigan but suffered a significant protest vote over the Gaza war in the battleground state, which has the country’s largest Arab-American population.

Organisers of a campaign to mobilise people to vote "uncommitted" hailed victory after far surpassing their target of 10,000 ballots - securing more than 100,000 votes by Wednesday morning, or 13% of the total.

Overall, Mr Biden won the Democratic primary comfortably with 81% of the vote while on the Republican ledger, Donald Trump beat Nikki Haley by about 68% to 26.5%.

The results brought a November rematch closer between Mr Biden and Mr Trump after their historic clash in 2020, but should give both the candidates pause for thought.

Ms Haley was stronger than the divisive former president among suburban and college voters, who will be more important in the nationwide general election than in a Republican primary.

In 2020, Mr Biden won in Michigan by nearly 154,000 votes, underlining the closeness of the contest in key battleground states.

In a statement, the president did not directly acknowledge the "uncommitted" effort but touted his record on the economy for Michigan voters and warned that Mr Trump is "threatening to drag us even further into the past as he pursues revenge and retribution”.

"This fight for our freedoms, for working families, and for democracy is going to take all of us coming together," Mr Biden said. "I know that we will."

But other Democrats acknowledged there was work to do before November to reach out more to disaffected voters in Michigan, which has more than 310,000 people of Middle Eastern or North African ancestry.

The “Listen to Michigan” campaign, which urged people to vote uncommitted, said the president had to recognise the anger felt over Israel’s war in Gaza, which has left nearly 30,000 Palestinians dead following the massacre of some 1,200 Israelis by Hamas on October 7.

"Our movement emerged victorious tonight and massively surpassed our expectations,” Listen to Michigan said in a statement. “Tens of thousands of Michigan Democrats, many of whom who voted for Biden in 2020, are uncommitted to his re-election due to the war in Gaza.”

With mounting protests across US cities against the war, Mr Biden has toughened his rhetoric against Israel in recent days. He raised hopes by saying Israel and Hamas could agree to a ceasefire in Gaza by Monday.

But both warring sides played that down, while the optics of his announcement - made while munching on an ice cream - raised new questions about the 81-year-old Mr Biden’s behaviour in front of the press.

On the Republican side, Mr Trump, 77, has now won all five of the states to have held early voting contests to choose the party’s November nominee including South Carolina, Ms Haley’s home state.

He did not travel to the state on Tuesday night and instead phoned into a Republican election watch party in the city of Grand Rapids, hailing the results as “far greater than anticipated”.

“We have a very simple task - we have to win on November 5 and we're going to win big,” Mr Trump said, according to his campaign. “We win Michigan, we win the whole thing.”

But Haley campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said the primary results were a "flashing warning sign for Trump in November” by reinforcing his struggle to win over centrist voters as he contends with multiple lawsuits.