CHICAGO: Arab and Muslim American campaigners on Wednesday claimed further successes in their efforts to persuade Democrat voters to withdraw their support for US President Joe Biden’s reelection bid.

The results of Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary in Wisconsin, traditionally a key swing state in presidential elections, showed what campaigners hailed as a significant decline in backing for Biden in protest against his support for Israel during its war on Hamas in Gaza.

With almost all of the votes counted by Wednesday evening, 48,098 people had cast an “uninstructed” vote rather than choosing Biden or his challenger, Dean Phillips. This represented an 8.3 percent share of the vote. Biden received 510,450 votes, or 88.6 percent of the total.

Hassan Abdel Salam, national spokesperson for the #AbandonBiden movement in Michigan, told Arab News: “In 2020, Biden won Wisconsin by approximately 20,000 votes, and in (Tuesday’s) primary, 50,000 voted against Biden.

“#AbandonBiden is focused on organizing on nine swing states, one of which is Wisconsin. Overall, Wisconsin’s results redeem the #AbandonBiden strategy that emerged in October 2023.”

The #AbandonBiden campaign was put into action during the Democratic primaries in Michigan and Minnesota in late February and early March and has continued in subsequent primaries across the country.

“This campaign has been organized and endorsed by dozens of local and national groups and partners that span a diverse range of backgrounds, and are all united in their call for a ceasefire (in Gaza),” said Salam.

“We congratulate all these groups for their extraordinary efforts to get out the vote. The primary election is set against the backdrop of the ongoing crisis in Gaza, which has tragically claimed the lives of over 30,000 civilians, including 13,000 children.”

Other Arab American leaders also welcomed the “uninstructed” votes in Wisconsin, including Abed Ayoub, national executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

“Last night Wisconsin voters sent Joe Biden a strong message,” he told Arab News. “Nearly 50,000 voters cast their ballot as ‘uninstructed’ or ‘uncommitted.’

“ADC is proud to have led digital organizing for the ‘uncommitted’ campaign, contacting over 500,000 voters in Wisconsin, but our work is not done; Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey are next.”

He added that efforts will continue to reach “voters across the country, sending a message to President Biden.”

Referring to the high number of “uninstructed” votes on Tuesday in Wisconsin compared with Biden’s margin of victory in the state at the 2020 presidential election, Ayoub said: “The math tells the story. Supporting genocide is a losing strategy.”

Organizers of the #AbandonBiden campaign also claimed successes in two other Democratic primaries held on Tuesday, in Connecticut and Rhode Island, neither of which is considered a swing state.

In Connecticut, Biden received 55,638 votes (84.9 percent of the total cast), while 7,484 people (11.4 percent) chose “uncommitted.”

In Rhode Island, Biden received 20,906 votes (82.6 percent), while 3,766 people (14.9 percent) chose “uncommitted.”

Biden has already won enough states during the primary process to secure the Democratic Party nomination for president. However, if the apparent anti-Biden protest vote among Arab and Muslim Americans and their allies in a dozen swing states carries through to the presidential election in November, in which Biden is likely to face Republican nominee Donald Trump, it could threaten his reelection prospects.

In Michigan, where Biden won the popular vote in 2020 by the relatively narrow margin of 154,188 votes, more than 130,000 voters chose “uncommitted” in the state’s Democratic primary on Feb. 24. In Georgia, where Biden defeated Trump by only 11,779 votes in 2020, more than 6,000 people cast blank ballots in the primary.

In Washington State, 48,619 voters, nearly 8 percent of the total, chose “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary. However, Biden won the state by 785,000 votes in 2020, so even a protest of a similar scale would be unlikely to threaten him there.

A dozen primary elections remain between now and June 4, when voters in New Jersey, a state with a sizable Arab and Muslim population, will cast their ballots.

Voter turnout in primaries is significantly lower than in the presidential election, in part because voters are required to declare party affiliation. Both Salam and Ayoub said they believe the anti-Biden vote will be even higher in November.


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