Muslim Americans serve up a night of reckoning for Biden in Michigan Primary

Former President Donald Trump handily beat former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in Michigan’s Republican primary.

Almost 37,000 Democrats in Michigan voted uncommitted in the race / X/JoeBiden

President Joe Biden received a glimpse of what his re-election bid faces this fall, as 14 percent of Democratic voters in Michigan voted “uncommitted” on Feb. 27 during the state’s primary election.

The protest vote against Biden was spearheaded by activists who want the president to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, which began Oct. 7. The war has taken the lives of 28,473 Palestinians and 1,410 Israelis as of Feb. 18, according to a report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Dearborn, Michigan is home to the largest population of Muslims in the US, with immigrants from Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and other Muslim-majority countries. More than half of Dearborn’s residents are Muslim Americans. 

Democrat Rashida Tlaib, who represents Dearborn and Detroit in Congress, said via X, formerly Twitter, that she had cast an uncommitted vote. Her sister Layla Elabed led the “Listen to Michigan” campaign, which called on Democrats to vote “uncommitted” to press Biden to call for an immediate ceasefire.

The President overwhelmingly won his race in Michigan with 79 percent of the vote: over 209,000. But almost 37,000 Democrats voted uncommitted in the race, with 27 percent of the vote counted. Democratic strategists expressed their concern that the “uncommitted” movement might spread over to Super Tuesday, March 5. 

Biden is running largely unopposed and will win in the 16 Super Tuesday states. But the movement adds one more weapon to the Trump arsenal, to be deployed during campaigning ahead of the general election on Nov. 5.

On Michigan primary night, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley — the lone opponent to former President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination — had already moved ahead to Colorado, one of the 15 Super Tuesday states. “Call your friends, text your family, and email everyone to let them know there is hope out there, but they have to do their part,” she told the packed crowd. “Our best days are yet to come.” 

“We can either go with more of the same or we can go with something new,” Haley said. “More of the same is not just Joe Biden. More of the same is also Donald Trump.”
Haley has vowed to continue her candidacy through Super Tuesday. 

In an earlier interview, Republican strategist Rina Shah said it may be mathematically impossible after Super Tuesday for Haley to win the Republican nomination, given the number of delegates Trump has already received and is likely to gain next Tuesday. 

As of Feb. 27 evening, Trump had amassed 119 delegates, and Haley trailed with 22. Final delegate allotment will be distributed at the Republican National Convention on July 15-18 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. To win the nomination, Trump or Haley must receive support from at least 1,215 of the 2,429 delegates. 874 delegates are up for grabs on Super Tuesday.

Haley lost some traction with moderate Republicans when she declared — after a controversial Alabama Supreme Court ruling — that frozen embryos are babies, and people who destroy them should be held liable for wrongful death.
“When you talk about an embryo, you are talking about a life,” Haley, who had artificial insemination to conceive her son, told NBC News.

The Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling on Feb. 16 declaring that embryos created through in vitro fertilization should be considered children. Several of the state’s IVF clinics have since paused IVF couples, critical to many couples who cannot otherwise have children.