Joe Biden won the Democratic primary in Michigan on Tuesday, February 27, but is under threat of a sanction vote for his support for Israel in this state with a large Muslim and Arab population.

The result could bode badly for the re-election chances of the American president, who won this state narrowly against Donald Trump four years ago.

According to initial estimates, more than 20,000 "uncommitted" votes, the equivalent of a blank vote, were cast in the ballot box during the Democratic primary in this state, responding to a call to put pressure on the American president to call for an immediate ceasefire and end his support for Israel.

Activists in this key Midwestern region launched the "Listen to Michigan" campaign, to deliver a "powerful and unequivocal message" that financing and supporting the war in Gaza is "at odds with the values ​​of the Democratic Party.

“President Biden is funding the bombs that are falling on relatives of families living right here in Michigan, people who voted for him and who feel completely betrayed,” explained Layla Elabed, a leader of the group.

As civilian casualties rise in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, Joe Biden has seen his support erode significantly among Muslims and Arab Americans, a bloc that had been crucial to him in 2020 in the face of Donald Trump in Michigan.

The Democratic leader only won this northern state by 150,000 votes four years ago.

“Exceeded expectations”

White House officials are displaying growing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his conduct of the war in Gaza.

However, the United States continues to deliver quantities of weapons to Israel, while leading intense efforts to negotiate a second truce in the war provoked by the bloody attack by Hamas on October 7 on Israeli soil.

Joe Biden has asked Congress for billions of dollars in additional military aid for Israel, and his administration has vetoed several UN resolutions calling for a ceasefire.

The “Listen to Michigan” group wanted to mobilize at least 10,000 voters for its campaign, a figure that is not just symbolic, activists say.

A goal that has already been largely exceeded.

“Our movement was victorious this evening and far exceeded our expectations,” he said in a statement.

A similar campaign demanding a ceasefire during the New Hampshire primary in January achieved nothing.

“I was proud today (...) to vote blank,” said Rashida Tlaib, elected to the American Congress from Michigan and of Palestinian origin.

“This is how we can use our democracy to say, ‘Listen to Michigan.’ Listen to the families who have been directly affected, but also listen to the majority of Americans who say, ‘Enough.’ Enough of the wars, enough of using our dollars to finance a genocide,” she added.

Donald Trump on his way

Fatima Elzaghir also voted blank in this election, she told AFP on Tuesday.

"It's obvious that appealing to empathy doesn't hold sway with most politicians. So perhaps the fact that (Biden) wants to win Michigan will push him to a cease-and-desist. fire,” said this young nurse.

Joe Biden's only real opponent for the Democratic nomination, Dean Phillips, a wealthy parliamentarian from the state of Minnesota, received only 2.7% of the votes, according to initial estimates.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump has already won hands down four states that voted, including South Carolina on Saturday, and Michigan has, for the moment, not interrupted its march towards the Republican nomination this summer.

For its primaries, the Republican Party opted for a complex hybrid system which will conclude four days later.

Her only remaining opponent, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, lost in her home state of South Carolina, but she refuses to give up, saying she doesn't believe Donald Trump can defeat Joe Biden in November.

With AFP

The France 24 summary of the week

invites you to look back at the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news everywhere with you!

Download the France 24 application