What to watch for in Michigan's primaries

When President Biden made Michigan one of the first states on the Democratic presidential nominating calendar, he increased the political influence of the populous, diverse battleground state.

That decision, a year ago, marks the first time since his election that Mr. Posing the most important test of his standing within Biden's party, opposition to his support for Israel threatens to upend what his allies expect will be a straightforward primary campaign.

In Michigan's Democratic primary on Tuesday, Mr. Biden is widely expected to win by a significant margin. But a domestic campaign to persuade Michiganders to vote “undecided” will gauge the opposition he faces among Arab Americans, young voters, progressives and other Democrats over his stance on the war in Gaza.

A high number of “undecided” votes would send a warning to his campaign nationally and set off alarms in Michigan, which he won in 2020, but polls show former President Donald J. Show weakness against Trump. A lower number, on the contrary, Mr. It will give Biden and his Democratic allies renewed hope that he can overcome tensions and focus on campaign priorities like the economy and abortion rights.

The lack of a credible referendum has made the outcome uncertain, and Mr.

“I'm going to look at the Democratic polls and that will tell me if I should be concerned,” Michigan Rep. Haley Stevens said in an interview Monday. “We'll know how deep it is on Wednesday.”

Republicans are also holding their primaries, though more delegates will be at stake Saturday in a nominating convention — or conventions — where a state Republican party is at war with itself. Mr. Trump is heavily favored in both races over his last remaining primary challenger, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

More than a million early and absentee ballots have already been cast in Michigan's primaries, according to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. But the data does not reveal how the vote was split between each party.

Here's what to watch for in Michigan's primaries.

Three weeks ago, the Arab American-led group Listen to Michigan set a modest goal: 10,000 votes.

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For some context, the last two Democratic presidential primaries in Michigan have had strong and competitive fields with about 20,000 “undecided” votes cast.

From Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, Mr. With Biden facing only a token challenger, the “uncertain” figure suggests Mr. A vote of no confidence over Biden's Gaza policy or other internal party grievances could be interpreted.

Our Revolution, a progressive group started by supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has set its goal of 10 percent of primary voters. (Mr. Sanders himself is endorsing Mr. Biden, and a spokeswoman denies campaigning is uncommitted.)

Mr. Biden's allies tried to stop the momentum against him in the final days of the campaign. A pro-Israel group launched digital ads supporting the president and warned that a noncommittal vote would help Mr Trump. Mr. Bush said he hoped for a cease-fire within a week, with Israel ceasing military operations in Gaza in exchange for the release of at least 100 hostages held by Hamas. Biden said Monday.

“My national security adviser tells me we're close, we're close, we're not done yet,” he told reporters in New York. “My hope is that we will reach a ceasefire by next Monday.”

Mr. Biden's campaign declined to engage in a primary prediction beyond saying he would win, which Listen to Michigan leaders also predicted. But his allies in Michigan and beyond are looking for the possibility of a rough night, with the most pessimistic among them suggesting the “uncertain” could get into the double digits.

When the Biden campaign wanted to run up the score in South Carolina, as the president advanced on the party's nominating calendar, it sent proxies, including House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, to the state to trump it. Support. Vice President Kamala Harris wrapped up the campaign with a rousing rally before a few hundred supporters on the first evening.

The Biden team's track record in Michigan was light.

In Ms. Harris's final primary season appearance in Michigan, she met with nine allies last week in Grand Rapids — a move necessitated by fears that Gaza protesters would derail her focus on abortion rights. Mr. Biden last visited the state on Feb. 1, speaking to a small gathering of unionized auto workers and stopping at a restaurant. Protesters demonstrated outside his events anyway.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said this month that Mr. He attended a half-dozen events for Biden, and his political action group hosted nearly 20, but in Michigan Mr. Among the most prominent foreign campaign surrogates stumping for Biden is Senator Amy Globuchar. Minnesota and Mitch Landrieu, the former mayor of New Orleans, who is his campaign co-chair. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who now lives in Michigan, said Mr. Bidanai was promoted in the state.

The White House sent a high-level delegation to private meetings with Arab American officials in Dearborn this month, in which a senior foreign policy aide acknowledged “missteps” in the administration's foreign policy and public coverage of the Gaza conflict.

Other Biden surrogates were asked to travel to Michigan and rejected because they did not want to engage with Gaza protesters, according to people familiar with the negotiations. The Biden campaign declined to comment for this article.

Representative Ro Khanna of California, usually Mr. One of Biden's most energetic supporters, the Biden campaign came to the state without a stamp, although it did endorse his visit. He held a “ceasefire town hall” on the University of Michigan campus and later appeared with Michigan Rep. Rashida Thleip — a member of the state's congressional delegation that endorsed the “noncommittal” campaign.

The leaders of the movement in the general election Mr. They insist they don't want to hurt Biden, but hope to convince him that his stance on Israel will hurt him politically by the time he corrects himself.

“Biden is in danger of losing Michigan in November,” said Laila Elabate, campaign manager for Listen to Michigan. “Hopefully the numbers after the primary will be significant enough for Joe Biden to care about asking Michigan.”

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Ms. Ellabet and others associated with Listen to Michigan argued that most Democrats who oppose Mr. Biden's Israel policy will support him in November — unless he changes course on the issue. Other Michigan activists include Mr. Biden has gone further and called for a cut in US military aid to Israel. A group of Armenian Americans Also emphasizes the “indecisive” vote Against the treatment of Armenians living in Azerbaijan.

In November Mr. How many Democratic primary dissidents are returning to Mr. Biden in a runoff with Trump remains an open question.

“Joe Biden could get the majority of them to vote if he changed course,” said former Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, who campaigned in support of the “no commitment” movement. “If he doesn't change course, there's nothing I can do to get people to vote for him.

Ms. Haley won South Carolina's primary by 20 percentage points over Mr. Haley in her home state. After losing to Trump, nearly a month later, he arrived in Michigan without much momentum. His largest outside benefactor, the Koch Political Network, announced it would stop supporting him.

Michigan has an open primary system, meaning Democrats can vote for Ms. Haley as in other states — but Mr. A kind of support at this time.

However, the primary may be Ms. Haley's high-water mark in Michigan, as most of the state's delegates to the Republican National Convention will be awarded at the party convention scheduled for Saturday. Rather than the broader Republican primary electorate, the convention delegates Mr.

But this, too, is more complicated than meets the eye: A rift among Michigan Republicans has led to warring conventions led by two claimants to the party leadership.

Ms. Haley, at her campaign stop in Michigan, continued to argue that Mr. Trump would lose the general election — which Mr. “Undecided” supporters of Mr. Biden if he doesn't change course. Israel-Gaza War.

Jasmine Ulloa Contributed report.

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