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Trump dominated Michigan's GOP primary. Biden won easily among Democrats


What message will Joe Biden take from Michigan's primary results?


The president easily won the Democratic primary last night while Donald Trump dominated the Republican side. Here is Biden's challenge - more than 100,000 people took the time to vote for nobody. More than 13% of Democrats voted uncommitted to protest Biden's handling of the conflict in Gaza.

MARTIN: Here to tell us about the results in both the Democratic and Republican primaries is NPR political reporter Elena Moore in Detroit. Good morning, Elena.

ELENA MOORE, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So let's hear more about last night's results on the Democratic side. How did Mr. Biden do?

MOORE: He received over 600,000 votes as of 5 a.m. Eastern this morning, according to a count by the Associated Press. The uncommitted option was second to that. A group called Listen to Michigan wanted Democrats to send a message that way. Basically, Listen to Michigan is advocating for Biden to call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire and stop sending U.S. aid to Israel. And organizers say Biden is at risk of losing key support in the general if he doesn't do that.

MARTIN: What does your reporting suggest that this means for the president going forward?

MOORE: Well, the group's goal was to get more than 10,000 votes, which was the margin Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by in 2016. And notably, Biden won Michigan in 2020 by more than 150,000 votes. But a few caveats here, Michel - it's not uncommon to get several thousand uncommitted votes. In 2012, which was the last time an incumbent Democratic president was on the ballot, uncommitted got more than 20,000 votes. In 2008, over 200,000 voted uncommitted as part of a movement to support President Barack Obama's candidacy, who was not on the state primary ballot. So last night, I asked Michigan State Representative Abraham Aiyash why this moment is different.

ABRAHAM AIYASH: I think anyone that has come out uncommitted this time around came out with the intention of sending the message that we do not want a party that is led with a lack of humanity for the Palestinian people.

MOORE: Michigan has a substantial Arab and Muslim population, especially in the southeast portion of the state, and organizers from these communities talk about the pain and anger folks are feeling. And what's notable from Tuesday's results is this is the first major test for how voter attitudes towards Biden's handling of Gaza could affect outcomes. And anecdotally, all week, I've been speaking with young voters about the violence in Gaza, and it's really resonated with them. And that's a key constituency in Michigan and generally for the Democratic Party.

MARTIN: Agreed. I mean, we've been hearing from our colleagues, Leila Fadel and Don Gonyea, you know, all week on the program, hearing very similar things.

OK. Before we let you go, the Democratic primary was not the only one. There was still a contested Republican primary. The former president, Donald Trump, won there. But what about his challenger, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley?

MOORE: The Haley campaign actually highlighted the division on the Democratic side after her loss last night, calling it a sign of Biden's weakness in November. But nevertheless, Trump has another win under his belt, making the window of viability even smaller for Haley. But, you know, she's continuing on. The campaign has stops planned in different states ahead of Super Tuesday, which is - you guessed it - Tuesday. And that will be another major test for Haley. Over a third of the total delegates are on the line in next week's contests, and the former South Carolina governor has yet to win a sizable number or any state.

MARTIN: That is NPR political reporter Elena Moore. Elena, thank you.

MOORE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.