Biden And Trump Win Michigan Presidential Primaries

Jon King, Michigan Advance

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump each won their respective primaries Tuesday in Michigan.

The Associated Press made the call about an hour after polls in most counties closed at 8 p.m., with just over 10% of the votes tabulated. Four western Upper Peninsula counties in the central times zone close their polls at 9 p.m.

The victories make it all the more likely that the two will face off against each other this November, in a repeat of the 2020 election in which Biden defeated Trump.

However, the results aren’t all cut and dried for either candidate.

Biden, who is cruising to an 80% victory margin, according to unofficial returns as of press time, has had to contend with a campaign to convince Democrats across the state to vote uncommitted on their ballot as a protest message over his support of Israel in its war against the militant group Hamas in Gaza.

As of 9:30 p.m., unofficial results show more than 22,000 voters chose to do just that, easily outpacing the 10,000 vote goal set by the Listen to Michigan campaign, approximating the margin of votes by which Trump won Michigan in 2016.

It also bested the uncommitted vote totals in the 2020, 2016 and 2012 Democratic primaries.

The group, whose manager is Layla Elabed, the sister U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), said “Michigan Democrats opposed to Biden’s policy in Gaza can demonstrate that we hold his margin of victory for re-election,” and that Biden must earn our vote through a dramatic change in policy.”

After casting her uncommitted vote on Tuesday, Tlaib recorded a video on the X page for the #ListenToMichigan campaign.

“I was proud today to walk in and pull a Democratic ballot and vote uncommitted. We must protect our democracy. We must make sure that our government is about us, about the people,” she said. “Listen to Michigan. Listen to the families right now that have been directly impacted, but also listen to the majority of Americans who are saying enough. No more wars. No more using our dollars to fund a genocide. No more.”

Tlaib’s parents are Palestinian immigrants and she has long been a vocal critic of Israel.

Seven Democratic state lawmakers are among those who supported the campaign, including Majority Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck), along with Reps. Alabas Farhat (D-Dearborn), Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit), Erin Byrnes (D-Dearborn), Dylan Wegela (D-Garden City), Jaime Churches (D-Wyandotte), and Emily Dievendorf (D-Lansing). Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud, a former state representative, was also a supporter.

Meanwhile, the #AbandonBiden campaign, which seeks the president’s loss in November regardless of what actions he takes toward the Israel-Hamas conflict, declared “victory” late Tuesday afternoon, hours before polls even closed.

“Ultimately, the election results in this primary point to Biden’s loss in November,” stated a press release. The group plans a press conference Wednesday morning in Dearborn.

Michigan’s Democratic primary is the last before Super Tuesday, with 117 delegates up for grabs.

If the uncommitted vote hits 15% or higher, state election law allows those delegates to vote as they please at the Democratic National Convention, set for August in Chicago.

The only other candidate Biden faced on the ballot was U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who was polling under 3%. Author Marianne Williamson’s name was on the ballot, although she suspended her presidential campaign on Feb. 7.

Trump has 66% of the GOP vote, according to unofficial returns, and his rival, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was just under 30%. The GOP race is now officially down to Trump and Haley after Texas pastor Ryan Binkley announced the suspension of his campaign Tuesday morning and endorsed Trump.

However, that margin of victory could be seen as a sign of some discontent among the party faithful, and potentially show up Trump’s own prediction.

“I mean, Nikki’s not even a factor,” Trump said in an interview on WJR-AM Tuesday afternoon. “She’s gonna lose like by 80 points tonight. She’s become a joke.”

Despite that, Trump has been dogged by Haley throughout the nominating process. Despite big wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, and even Haley’s home state of South Carolina, Trump’s margins of victory have been a sign of potential trouble down the road.

While he remains highly popular with the party’s base, Alex Conant, a GOP operative who worked on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign, says his outreach to independents and suburban voters has not been strong.

“Once we get into the general election and Republicans don’t have a choice, some of those voters will come home, but in a close election, those voters are why Trump lost in 2020,” Conant told The Hill. “I think it is problematic, and it’s striking how Trump has done nothing to expand his appeal since 2020.”

For Republicans, today’s balloting is just the first part of a two-part process to award their presidential delegates that will attend July’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. Only 16 of the GOP delegates are based on Tuesday’s results, with the  remaining 39 of the state’s 55 delegates determined at a caucus convention this Saturday.

That issue had been somewhat up in the air with dueling conventions planned for both Detroit and Grand Rapids amid a leadership fight, but a Kent County judge on Tuesday provided some answers by declaring a Jan. 6 vote that removed Kristina Karamo as party chair to be legal.

Karamo had set the Detroit convention, but with Tuesday’s ruling, and the Republican National Committee previously endorsing her replacement, former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, only the delegates chosen in Grand Rapids will receive credentials to the national convention.

Michigan’s status as a battleground state was exemplified in 2016 when Trump narrowly won the state over Democrat Hillary Clinton, beating her by just 10,700 votes. While that was less than a percentage point difference, it gave Trump all of Michigan’s then-16 electoral votes, and was key to his taking the White House.

The state’s battleground status was then solidified in 2020, when Biden beat Trump by more than 154,000 votes, for a 3% margin of victory, 51%-48%, helping to amass an electoral and popular vote victory that ended Trump’s presidency. Trump, of course, has never accepted that defeat and continues to promote the thoroughly disproven fiction that massive fraud was behind his loss.

During an appearance earlier this month in Lansing,  Pete Buttigieg, who serves as Biden’s transportation secretary, emphasized the opportunity Michigan voters have as an early primary state.

“I think it’s important for residents in the state to lean into that,” said Buttigieg, who moved to Traverse City in 2022. “Just showing that people here understand what it means to be given a level of outsized influence that can really shape the conversation, and showing our readiness to do that, that’s a big deal.”

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan J. Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

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