Biden and Trump win Michigan Primaries – but what about the “uncommitted” vote?

Presidential primaries

On Tuesday a fairly guaranteed rematch between U.S. President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump was secured with both winning the Michigan primaries.

Biden beat out Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, who was his one significant opponent left in the Democratic primary.

However, Democrats were also closely monitoring the results of the “uncommitted” vote, as Michigan has become the heart for dissatisfied members of Biden’s coalition that propelled him to victory in the state — and nationally — in 2020.

In this moment, the number of “uncommitted” votes has already exceeded the 10,000-vote margin by which Trump won Michigan in 2016, and has surpassed a goal set by organizers of this year’s protest effort.

On the Trump camp, he has now swept the first five states on the Republican primary calendar.

The victory he secured in Michigan over his last major primary challenger, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, comes on the heels of the former president defeating her by 20 percentage points in her home state of South Carolina on Saturday.

On the horizon, the Trump campaign is seeking to lock up the 1,215 delegates required to secure the Republican nomination sometime in mid-March.

Both campaigns are watching Tuesday’s results for more than just whether they won as expected.

For Biden, the significant number of voters choosing “uncommitted” potentially means he’s in significant trouble with parts of the Democratic base in a state he can hardly afford to lose in November.

In the meantime, Trump has under-performed with suburban voters and people with a college degree, and further faces a faction within his own party that believes he broke the law in one or more of the criminal cases currently pending against him.

Biden has already secured victories in South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire.

Both White House and Biden campaign officials have travelled to Michigan in recent weeks for discussions with community leaders about the Israel-Hamas war and how Biden has approached the conflict, however those leaders, along with organizers of the “uncommitted” effort, have been undeterred.

The considerable grassroots effort, which has been urging voters to select “uncommitted” as a way to communicate objections to his management of Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, has been Biden’s most significant political challenge in the early contests.

That push, which gained significant momentum just a few weeks ago, has been supported by officials such as Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian American woman in Congress, as well as former representative Andy Levin.

On the other side, Trump has struggled with college-educated voters, losing that bloc in South Carolina to Haley on Saturday night.

Despite this, senior figures in the Republican Party who have been skeptical of Trump are increasingly falling in line.

Despite this, Haley has vowed to continue her campaign through at least Super Tuesday on March 5, pointing to a not-insignificant swath of Republican primary voters who have continued to support her despite Trump’s tightening grip on the party.

Further, she also outraised Trump’s primary campaign committee by almost $3 million US in January.

This supports a notion that some donors continue to look at Haley, despite her long-shot prospects, as an alternative to Trump should his legal problems compromise his chances of becoming the nominee.

According to campaign finance reports that became available last week, two of Trump’s political committees raised just $13.8 million US in January, however collectively spent more than they took in.

It is reported that much of the money spent from Trump’s political committees is the millions of dollars in legal fees to cover his court cases. With nominal intra-party challengers, Biden has been able to focus on beefing up his cash reserves.

The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced last week that it had raised $42 million US in contributions during January from 422,000 donors.

Campaign officials have said that the president ended the month with $130 million US in cash on hand, the highest total ever raised by any Democratic candidate at this point in the presidential cycle.

The Republican Party is also aligning behind Trump as he continued to be beset by legal problems that will pull him from the campaign trail as the November election nears.

Trump faces 91 criminal changes across four separate cases, and they span his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost, to retaining classified documents after his presidency and on to allegedly arranging secret payoffs to an adult film actor.

The former president’s first criminal trial, in the case involving hush money payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels, is scheduled to begin on March 25 in New York.

— with files from cbc.ca

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