1709079509 Michigan the first major hinge state in the United States

Michigan, the first major hinge state in the United States, intervenes in the primary election campaign with the threat of a protest vote against Biden | International

Michigan the first major hinge state in the United States

“Michigan is a state that should never be taken for granted,” asserts its Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The state with 10 million inhabitants, which celebrates its primary elections this Tuesday, is crucial for Joe Biden and his likely Republican rival Donald Trump on the way to the White House. And it is one of the few pure hinge states that exists in the United States; Despite being split almost exactly 50%, he usually backs the winning horse. In 2016, he rejected Republicans; in 2020 by the current president. In both cases with minimal margins. Today the polls show a technical tie between them, although neither party is enjoying its best moments there.

There is no doubt that Trump and Biden will win their respective primaries. The Republican is only fighting against former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. And Biden, only on paper with a congressman from Minnesota, Dean Phillips, whose name seems familiar to few.

But Haley has vowed to keep going, even though she hasn't won in any of the four states that have already held primaries. Not even in his country, South Carolina, where it fell below 40%. And Biden faces a campaign promoted by leaders of Michigan's important Arab-American community that calls on Democrats to vote “undeclared,” the equivalent of a blank vote, in this call as a warning against their pro-Israel vote Change policy and promote a ceasefire in Gaza. Other Arab American groups are also committed to “abandoning Biden” and forcing Donald Trump to win.

Hassan, of Yemeni descent, proudly wears a sticker on his lapel that reads “I voted” in the colors of the American flag. He has just left the Salina polling station in the predominantly Arab city of Dearborn, where he cast his vote. He voted Democratic, he says, but he checked the “undeclared” box. Why? “Two words,” he says, raising two fingers of his hand, “: Palestine. Gaza†.

Mohammed Abdullah, 68 years old and has lived in the USA for 47 years, also voted “no”. “We want a ceasefire in Gaza. We Arab Americans lean mostly Democratic, but this time we mobilized to issue this wake-up call. They need our votes to win, and if the war continues, they won't have them. I hope that they listen to us and that there can be a ceasefire soon, that the war ends, perhaps before Ramadan begins on March 11th.

On the other side of town, at McDonald Elementary School, the Lebanese-born mayor of Dearborn, Abdullah Hammoud, also registered for the “unregistered.” “I don’t want Donald Trump to win in November. I know that he imposed a travel ban on Muslim countries (when he was president), I know that he approved the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and that he did nothing for the two-state solution. At the same time, people are dying in Gaza and I wonder what could be worse? At the moment we are doing what we can by voting undeclared to try to get the government to change course and accept a ceasefire. If that doesn't change before November, we'll see.

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Gov. Whitmer herself — co-chair of Biden's campaign and considered a rising star in her own party — has admitted that she doesn't know how many “unreported” ballots may be counted after polls close. , starting at 8:00 a.m. local time (2:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Spanish Peninsula Time). However, in an interview with NBC television on Monday, he acknowledged that it might be a “respectable” amount. “I think it’s everyone’s right to make clear what’s important to them,” he added.

Wake-up call

Biden will win the 140 delegates that Michigan will send to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August. But a percentage of “undeclared” people greater than 10% would be a wake-up call for the tenant of the White House. Organizers of the Listen to Michigan campaign have set a goal of 10,000 votes, which Trump used to win the state in 2016, and a relatively modest goal: four years ago, with no organization behind them, nearly 20,000 undeclared votes were counted.

Abstention would also be a blow – for both the Democratic and Republican candidates – another specter hanging over this election call. Few Democratic voters say they are enthusiastic about their candidate, who at 81 is the oldest president in the country's history. “Nobody is happy about the election,” said Eve, a student on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus who voted Democratic two years ago. “Maybe I’ll stay home. If I end up voting, it will be considered undeclared.”

It is something that breaks the trend of recent years. The 2020 presidential election and 2022 midterm elections broke turnout records. Young people have been crucial: Two years ago, 36.4% of Michigan youth voted, the highest percentage in the country and 13th, according to a study by the Center for Information and Research on Learning and Civic Participation (Circle) at Tufts University percentage points above average.

Four years ago, 2.3 million people, or 30% of registered voters, took part in the primary election. On this occasion, almost a million people had voted in advance before Tuesday, according to Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who is in charge of election administration.

Dispute between Republicans

On the Republican side, the outlook is also complicated, although there is no doubt that Trump will prevail in this fight. The Republican election event consists of two parts: the primary this Tuesday, which will decide 30% of the delegates, and the state convention, similar to a caucus, on March 2nd, which will award the remaining 70%.

And this is where the complications begin. Due to an internal party dispute, two factions have emerged, each of which will hold its own party conference. One in the city of Grand Rapids, the other on the outskirts of Detroit.

Trump has ignored both calls and is confident of his victory. Not so for Haley, who has held rallies in both locations and whose campaign has invested half a million dollars in local television advertising. She is sticking to her message: She has no plans to retire, even though polls continue to show the former president by a wide margin and her major donors are beginning to abandon her.

“We can't have a candidate as a candidate who will win a primary but can't win a presidential election,” Haley repeated in the halls of a hotel in Troy, on the outskirts of Detroit, to applause from nearly 200 people. His audience was primarily made up of old-school Republicans, middle-class families and more racially diverse than the almost always white faces at Trump events.

“I think Nikki Haley is someone who can unite the country. Biden is a person of the extreme left and Trump is a person of the extreme right. They can't adjust to the other half of the country. I want someone who is moderate. I don't care if you're conservative or liberal, but be moderate,” said Glenn Sloan, a retired businessman who attended the former governor's rally and admitted to voting for the former president in 2020.

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