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More than 40K ‘uninstructed’ ballots cast in Wisconsin Dem primary in protest of Biden’s Gaza response


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More than 40,000 “uninstructed” ballots were cast in Tuesday’s Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary in protest of President Biden’s response to the conflict in Gaza.

The amount of protest votes doubled the threshold that organizers of the movement hoped to reach, though Biden, 81, still sailed to victory in the Badger State.

Biden speaks during a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on March 13, 2024. AFP via Getty Images

The president received 87.9% of the vote, while nearly 9% voted “uninstructed” and more than 3% opted to cast ballots for Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who dropped out of the race last month.

“Wisconsin: 43,090 Uninstructed Votes with 85% reporting. More than 2x our goal!” an X account associated with the so-called “Listen to Wisconsin” campaign posted. 

The campaign, backed by 21 local, statewide, and national grassroots advocacy groups, and dozens of faith leaders and elected state officials, urged Wisconsin residents to vote “uninstructed” in protest of Biden’s “continued support for unmitigated violence in Gaza.” 

Wisconsin – a key battleground state – narrowly went for Biden in 2020. 

The group’s 20,000 vote goal was based on Biden’s margin of victory over former President Donald Trump in the Badger State in the last presidential election. 

In March, Biden faced a similar protest vote in the battleground state of Michigan, where 100,000 uncommitted ballots were cast in the state’s Democratic primary in protest of the president’s refusal to call for a permanent cease-fire in Israel’s war against Hamas. 

A sign encouraging people to vote uninstructed in the Democratic presidential primary is shown Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at the Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK
Voters nearly fill all the booths at the First United Lutheran church poll on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Sheboygan, Wis. Gary C. Klein/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

The total amounted to 13% of the vote, and the Michigan uncommitted campaign received two delegates toward the Democratic National Convention in August.

In Minnesota, nearly 19% of Democratic primary voters casted uncommitted ballots last month, for a total of more than 45,900. That campaign nabbed 11 delegates from Biden. 

Both Michigan and Minnesota have sizable Muslim and Arab American populations. 

Support for Biden from the voting bloc has tanked in the aftermath of his backing of Israel’s military operations in Gaza. 

Only 17.4% of Arab American voters said they would vote for Biden in 2024, according to a John Zogby Strategies poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute last October. 

In 2020, the same poll measured Arab American support for Biden at 59%.

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