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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Michigan Primary Live Updates: Latest on Trump, Biden and Gaza Protest Vote - The New York Times

Michigan Primary Live Updates: Biden Confronts Protest Votes as He and Trump Win Easily

'President Biden faced his most significant challenge in Michigan from those opposed to his handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Republican infighting in the state did not involve Donald J. Trump, who coasted to victory.

  1. Queens, N.Y.

    President Biden returning to Washington after a day in New York on Monday.

    Bonnie Cash for The New York Times
  2. Dearborn, Mich.

    A polling site at at Oakman Elementary School  on Tuesday.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times
  3. National Harbor, Md.

    Donald J. Trump during his appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference  on Saturday. 

    Doug Mills/The New York Times
  4. Dearborn, Mich.

    A demonstrator outside a polling site on Tuesday, urging voters to cast an ‘uncommitted’ ballot.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times
  5. Detroit, Mich.

    A voter checking in with poll workers on Tuesday.

    Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
  6. Centennial, Colo.

    Nikki Haley at a campaign event on Tuesday. 

    Matthew Defeo for The New York Times
  7. Dearborn, Mich.Voters casting ballots in the Michigan primary on Tuesday.

  8. Dearborn, Mich.

    Casting a ballot in the Michigan primary on Tuesday.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times
  9. Dearborn, Mich.

    Emily Elconin for The New York Times


President Biden won Michigan’s Democratic primary election on Tuesday but was facing opposition over his support for Israel as it wages war in Gaza, with a substantial percentage of voters casting ballots for “uncommitted” as part of a protest movement against him.

Former President Donald J. Trump was also victorious in the Republican primary, coasting past former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina to continue his undefeated primary streak. The Associated Press called both races as final polls closed at 9 p.m.

Long before the final votes had been tallied in Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary race, organizers of a protest movement against President Biden’s support for Israel had declared victory, dancing to the tunes of traditional Palestinian music at a Lebanese restaurant in Dearborn, the center of the state’s Arab American community.

“This is a resounding victory for our country’s pro-Palestinian, antiwar movement,” said Abbas Alawieh, a spokesman for Listen to Michigan, a group that sprang into existence three weeks ago urging voters to cast their ballots for the “uncommitted” option in the state’s primary instead of Mr. Biden.

Christine Zhang
Feb. 27, 2024, 11:53 p.m. ET

With nearly all of the vote estimated to be counted in Dearborn, “uncommitted” now has received around 56 percent of the vote, with President Biden at about 40 percent.

When Tuesday began, Mohanad Gazzaley, 18, was not registered to vote, and he had not previously heard of the campaign to vote “uncommitted” in protest of President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza. Then, standing on the stoop of his parents’ home in Hamtramck, a Detroit suburb, he talked in the early afternoon with a canvasser from the Detroit chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

An hour later, Mr. Gazzaley was registered to vote, and he emerged from Hamtramck City Hall with two friends — also 18-year-old first-time voters — whom he had brought with him.

Former President Donald J. Trump won Michigan’s Republican presidential primary election on Tuesday, moving closer to a general election rematch against President Biden.

Mr. Biden easily won his own primary, though he faced a groundswell of opposition from voters who are protesting his staunch support for Israel and its military campaign in Gaza by casting ballots not for another candidate, but for “uncommitted.” The Associated Press called both contests as soon as final polls closed at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:47 p.m. ET

President Biden did not mention the “uncommitted” vote or the organized protest of his Gaza policy in a statement on Michigan’s results released by his campaign. “I want to thank every Michigander who made their voice heard today. Exercising the right to vote and participating in our democracy is what makes America great,” Biden said.

Michael Gold
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:42 p.m. ET

Donald Trump called into the Michigan G.O.P. watch party after the race was called. According to a transcript provided by his campaign, he thanked the party’s chairman, Pete Hoekstra, and predicted a big victory in November. “We win Michigan, we win the whole thing,” Trump said.

Christine Zhang
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:23 p.m. ET

Initial vote tallies from Dearborn, the city with the highest percentage of Arab American voters in the state, have been posted. ‘‘Uncommited” is leading there by far, with more than 73 percent of the total vote reported so far — 1,828 votes to President Biden’s 599.

Anjali Huynh
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:16 p.m. ET

With 22 percent of Democratic primary votes counted, the “uncommitted” vote totals in Michigan have far surpassed the numbers that it received in the party’s last three presidential primaries, when “uncommitted” garnered around 20,000 votes in each of those years. The category currently has about 30,000 votes.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 10:00 p.m. ET

It’s been an hour since all the polls closed in Michigan and the Democratic primary was called for President Biden — and there still has not been a statement from the president. In each previous primary, the Biden campaign trumpeted its victory within minutes of the race being called in his favor. But with a sizable protest vote against his Israel policy tonight in Michigan, Biden has been quiet so far.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:53 p.m. ET

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan, on CNN, said the strength of the “uncommitted” campaign was “not a surprise to me.” “It’s not just the Arab American and Muslim community,” she added. “It’s young people who want to be heard and have the same concerns.”

Anjali Huynh
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:47 p.m. ET

Results are still coming in in Michigan, but Layla Elabed, the campaign manager for Listen to Michigan, sent out a memo calling the movement “victorious” and suggested that the group might protest President Biden at the Democrats’ nominating convention in August. “Our delegation plans to hold the Democratic nominee accountable to our community’s antiwar agenda at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago,” she wrote. “See you there.”

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:45 p.m. ET

The percentage of “uncommitted” voters in the Democratic primary is sitting at about 15 percent. Expect that share of the vote to increase. Very few votes are in from Wayne County, which includes Detroit, Dearborn and most of the state’s Arab American population. And there are few votes from Ingham County, which includes East Lansing, home to Michigan State University.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:44 p.m. ET

“Uncommitted” will win delegates to the Democratic convention if it passes 15 percent in Michigan congressional districts. It is not unprecedented for uncommitted to win convention delegates. In 2012, Barack Obama lost dozens of delegates to uncommitted slates in Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, Maryland and other states. Those delegates came to the convention free to vote for any candidate. They all ultimately cast votes for Obama.

Anjali Huynh
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:43 p.m. ET

A spokeswoman for Nikki Haley, Olivia Perez-Cubas, issued a statement drawing parallels between Haley’s standing against Trump, whom she currently trails in Michigan by over 30 points, and the protest vote against President Biden that she framed as a sign of Biden’s “weakness.” “What was once a beacon for the conservative cause, the Michigan Republican Party is now fractured and divided,” she said. “So long as Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, Republicans will keep losing to the socialist left.”

Jazmine Ulloa
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:40 p.m. ET

Nikki Haley says the Michigan results tonight show the weaknesses of both Trump and Biden. “Let this serve as another warning sign that what has happened in Michigan will continue to play out across the country,” she said. 

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:40 p.m. ET

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan released a statement on the primary results that does not mention the “uncommitted” effort or the war in Gaza. “I appreciate every Michigander who participated and made their voice heard,” said Whitmer, a Democrat. “Michigan is proud of its rich diversity of backgrounds, ideologies and cultures. This is what makes us stronger and always has.”

Chris Cameron
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:39 p.m. ET

In 2008, over 238,000 votes were cast for “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary after Barack Obama and others removed their names from the ballot, because the state had jumped ahead of the national party's calendar.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:30 p.m. ET

The results of tonight’s Michigan primaries demonstrate the enduring weakness both Biden and Trump have within their own parties, with substantial numbers of Democrats and Republicans voting against them even as they close in on the nominations.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 9:11 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

At the Listen to Michigan watch party, supporters are cheering as Abbas Alawieh, a spokesman for the group, announces that “uncommitted” has already topped 11,000 votes — roughly Donald Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a target that organizers said they wanted to surpass. “This is a resounding victory for our country’s pro-Palestinian, antiwar movement,” Alawieh said.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:59 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

Organizers and supporters of the “uncommitted” protest movement in Michigan have gathered at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn to watch the results come in. Layla Elabed — the campaign manager for the group organizing the effort, Listen to Michigan — tells the audience that they are sending a message to President Biden that “Palestinian life is valuable and we demand a permanent cease-fire now.”

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:25 p.m. ET

Monica Otlacan, 45, became a U.S. citizen last month after moving from Romania in 2011. She thought she would be more excited to finally cast a ballot in a U.S. election. “I’m not happy with what I have to choose from,” Otlacan, an accountant, said. She decided to vote for Nikki Haley because she opposed Trump’s immigration and abortion policies and was against Biden’s support for welfare.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:22 p.m. ET

As the Michigan Democratic primary results trickle in, expect the “uncommitted” percentage to grow as more ballots are counted from Wayne County. The state’s biggest county, Wayne County includes Detroit and Dearborn — where many of the state’s Arab American voters live — and often takes longer to report results than other corners of Michigan.

Chris Cameron
Feb. 27, 2024, 8:05 p.m. ET

Most polls have now closed in Michigan. Voters still in line may vote, and a few counties in the Central time zone will remain open for another hour.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 7:51 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

Samih Zreik, 80, cast a protest vote for “uncommitted” here in Dearborn, Mich., where many Arab Americans live. Zreik said he had a message for President Biden: “Cease-fire, cease-fire, cease-fire.” Without peace in Gaza, he said, he would stay home in November rather than vote for the president, even if that meant a victory for Donald Trump, whom he abhors.

A circuit court judge on Tuesday ordered Kristina Karamo, the deposed leader of the Michigan Republicans, to abandon her efforts to cling to power. But what that means for Saturday, when Ms. Karamo had pledged to hold a dueling presidential nominating convention, remains unclear.

“I have to comply with the judge’s orders,” she told reporters after the court hearing, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 7:31 p.m. ET

Greg Hazergian, 40, a cardiologist from Northville, Mich., said Trump “is as much of a jerk as he is narcissist” — but he voted for him anyway, because he prefers Trump’s economic policies. Hazergian, who voted for Trump in 2020, said he “has some good stuff that he does; he just needs not to speak.” He doesn't believe there is evidence that Trump has done anything wrong, and said that if he were convicted, it would be “a political scam.”

As voting was underway in Michigan, Nikki Haley was delivering her closing pitch to voters further west in Colorado, which votes next week on Super Tuesday.

Speaking to hundreds of supporters packed into aircraft hangar near Denver on Tuesday, Ms. Haley once more urged Republicans to abandon former President Donald J. Trump, calling him a self-involved and unstable leader who could not win in November.

Nicholas Nehamas
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:55 p.m. ET

Nicholas Nehamas

Reporting from Michigan

Mike Herman, the precinct chairman for the polling place at McDonald Elementary School in Dearborn, Mich., stepped outside around 6:45 p.m. to collect a delivery: a sheaf of applications to register to vote. He had nearly run out, with more than 300 people in this heavily Arab American neighborhood having voted so far — twice the number Herman had expected. “We were down to our last 10,” he said. 

Zach Johnk
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:52 p.m. ET

Under Michigan’s Democratic primary rules, candidates can receive delegates by earning at least 15 percent of the vote in a specific congressional district. Abbas Alawieh, a spokesman for Listen to Michigan, the group behind the “uncommitted” campaign, said that the group was seeing strong turnout in the 12th Congressional District and now believed the effort to protest Biden over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war could earn it at least one delegate. “We are confident,” he said.

Jazmine Ulloa
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:37 p.m. ET

As voting in Michigan was underway, Nikki Haley was in Denver, holding a rally in the Super Tuesday state. Flanked by military planes, Haley reiterated that the Republican National Committee should not be paying Donald Trump’s legal fees. “If there is a resolution on whether the RNC funds are going to pay for legal fees, we deserve to see how every national committee member votes,” she said.

Neil Vigdor
Feb. 27, 2024, 6:13 p.m. ET

A circuit court judge in Michigan just ordered Kristina Karamo, the embattled former state Republican Party chairwoman at the center of a two-month leadership fight, to stop her attempts to hold onto power. The ruling comes four days before Karamo was scheduled to hold a statewide presidential nominating convention in Detroit, conflicting with the party’s now-official convention in Grand Rapids.

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 5:57 p.m. ET

The campaign to vote uncommitted did not persuade Ali Abbas, 44, of Dearborn, Mich., who voted for President Biden despite misgivings about Middle East policy. “He’s not perfect but I don’t want to embarrass him. He’s a good man.” Another voter, Danii Hassan, had not heard about the uncommitted effort. “Why would you go to vote and then not choose someone?” said Hassan, a 30-year-old mother of three.

Sam Easter
Feb. 27, 2024, 5:29 p.m. ET

Julie Ebert, 56, a Republican and a construction equipment sales rep, voted for Nikki Haley — and very much not for Donald Trump — in Rockford, Mich., today. “I don’t like the way he represents women,” she said of Trump. “I like Nikki because of the way she does.”

Sam Easter
Feb. 27, 2024, 5:14 p.m. ET

Mike Stanton, a 64-year-old Republican and mechanical engineer, cast his ballot in Rockford for Donald Trump. “I was living a lot better when he was in office," Stanton said. “The world was safer then. On his watch, we were in a better spot.” He added, “Can I blame it all on Biden? Absolutely not.” But he pointed out how much inflation had eaten away at his salary in recent years, and how many foreign policy challenges the country faces. “It’s cut and dried in my mind,” he said.

Maggie Astor
Feb. 27, 2024, 4:50 p.m. ET

A new report from the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute and Loyola Marymount University found a total of 142 Black L.G.B.T.Q. elected officials nationwide — less than 6 percent of the number that would mean representation equal to their share of the population. Nearly 75 percent of candidates interviewed for the report said they had faced homophobic or transphobic attacks during their campaigns.

While activist groups have urged Democrats in Michigan to cast ballots for “uncommitted” to object to President Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, the idea of casting a protest vote against a shoo-in nominee is nothing new. In past uncompetitive presidential primaries, the typical protest vote has been about 7 percent.

The protest vote in presidential primaries

Percent of vote going to “uncommitted” or to minor candidates in party primaries where an incumbent president ran without major competition

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 4:25 p.m. ET

Lon Herman, 73, was among those volunteering with the Democratic Socialists of America in Hamtramck, Mich., in favor of a protest vote today against President Biden over the war in Gaza. But if the choice were between Biden and Trump? “The Palestine issue would basically be a wash, so I’d have to hold my nose and vote for the Democrat, as I usually do,” he said.

Kellen Browning
Feb. 27, 2024, 4:05 p.m. ET

Kari Lake, a Trump ally running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona, just scored an endorsement from Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio, who called her a “battle-tested warrior” in a statement. Lake has been a divisive figure in Arizona, but she earned the backing of the National Republican Senatorial Committee this month.

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 3:55 p.m. ET

Representative Rashida Tlaib, the one Democrat in Michigan's congressional delegation to endorse voting “uncommitted” in today's primary, recorded a robocall sent by the progressive group Our Revolution. “Help protect our democracy by sending a clear message to President Biden. Change course on Gaza,” she says. “Help us win back the trust of the voting coalition who got you elected in 2020.”

Steve Friess
Feb. 27, 2024, 3:27 p.m. ET

Volunteers with the Detroit chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America are canvassing in Hamtramck, Mich., hoping to persuade voters to cast ballots for ‘uncommitted’ in protest of President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza. “To see kids dying, it’s just sad,” Mohanad Gazzaley, 18, said from his stoop. He isn’t a registered voter, but would his parents vote? “Yes, 100 percent,” he replied. “I will tell them to.”

President Biden will participate in a round-table discussion next month with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters at the union’s national headquarters in Washington, courting the powerful labor group that endorsed him in the 2020 election over Donald J. Trump.

The union announced on Tuesday that Mr. Biden had accepted an invitation to meetwith its top leaders and some of its 1.3 million rank-and-file members on March 12, the latest presidential candidate to take up the group’s offer. The union has yet to issue an endorsement in the 2024 election cycle.

Sam Easter
Feb. 27, 2024, 2:16 p.m. ET

James DuPree, a 31-year-old independent, said he often leaned Democratic but was upset over the death toll in Gaza. “So there’s no way I can vote for Joe Biden,” he said outside a polling center in Kentwood, Mich. Instead, DuPree voted for Nikki Haley, though not wholeheartedly. It wasn’t long ago, he said, that Haley “couldn’t acknowledge that slavery was the cause of the Civil War.”

Reid J. Epstein
Feb. 27, 2024, 1:14 p.m. ET

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a co-chair of the Biden campaign, raised expectations for the ‘uncommitted’ vote in the state’s primary today. “I anticipate that we will see a sizable number of people vote ‘uncommitted,’” she said on MSNBC. “There’s a lot of people who are hurting.” Whitmer has said that any ‘uncommitted’ votes will make it more likely that Donald Trump wins in November.

Neil Vigdor
Feb. 27, 2024, 1:04 p.m. ET

Pete Hoekstra, whom Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee have recognized as the chair of the embroiled Michigan G.O.P., said he didn’t expect a groundswell of late deciders supporting Nikki Haley in today’s primary. “You’re not going to persuade a whole lot of voters,” Hoekstra said, “especially when you’ve got a candidate as well known as Donald Trump on the ballot.”

Neil Vigdor
Feb. 27, 2024, 12:44 p.m. ET

At the same time that primary voting is underway in Michigan, rival factions from the state’s fractured Republican Party are in circuit court in Grand Rapids for a hearing to determine which one group holds power. Both are barreling ahead with plans to hold presidential nominating conventions on Saturday, one in Grand Rapids and another in Detroit.

When the initial results from Michigan’s primary begin to trickle in after polls close at 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday, expect to see President Biden running up big margins in the Democratic primary.

But Listen to Michigan, the main group behind the push to vote “uncommitted” in the primary — as a protest of Mr. Biden’s Israel policies — cautioned patience on the results as they are reported. The group’s campaign manager, Layla Elabed, said that “uncommitted” supporters were more likely to vote at the polls Tuesday than during the state’s early and absentee voting periods, which will be reported first.

Polls have begun closing in Michigan, where a sizable Arab American community could register their discontent with President Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza by voting uncommitted in the Democratic primary.

Tuesday’s voting wraps up at 8 p.m. local time, and a sliver of the state lies in the Central time zone. It comes amid one of the most consequential weeks yet for Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign as he tries to navigate two of the nation’s thorniest political issues: the Gaza war and immigration.

The political spotlight will be on Michigan on Tuesday when voters there cast primary ballots, and then again four days later when Republicans host an additional contest.

The party adopted a novel and somewhat confusing hybrid nominating system this year, which will culminate on March 2 with a statewide nominating convention."

Michigan Primary Live Updates: Latest on Trump, Biden and Gaza Protest Vote - The New York Times

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