A significant segment of Arab and Muslim American voters who had previously considered voting for Biden in 2024 has expressed disillusionment due to his support for the Israeli military actions in Gaza. This shift in sentiment among voters is notable, especially considering that many had initially supported Biden to prevent Trump from securing a return to the White House.
Michigan, a crucial state in recent elections, is at the forefront of this debate. Arab American leaders assert that their community played a pivotal role in securing Biden’s victory in 2020, with approximately 145,000 Arab American votes contributing to his slim 155,000-vote margin in the state. The narrow margins in swing states like Michigan underscore the potential impact of various groups on election outcomes. Case in point: Trump won Michigan in 2016 by a little more than 10,700 votes. That is why Michigan is one of the swing states per excellence.
In recent elections, the margins of victory in the swing states like Michigan have been so thin that many groups can influence the outcome. But what was alarming for the Biden Administration was the young 18-34 voters who were against the war and called for a cease-fire. These young voters nationwide were fundamental elements for Biden’s victory in 2020. The demonstrations against the war across the country and in American universities demonstrate that the young voters are against Biden’s support for the war. As a result, some newspaper editorials questioned if the war in Gaza could cost Biden his reelection bid in 2024.
A recent Washington Post report citing an NBC News poll revealed that 70 percent of voters aged 18 to 34 disapprove of Biden’s handling of the Gaza conflict. With Generation Z (those born between 1997-2012) and millennials (those born between 1981-1996) voters expected to make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate in 2024, their dissatisfaction becomes crucial. In 2020, 61 percent of Michigan voters aged 18 to 29 supported Biden, making their discontent a significant challenge for his reelection prospects.
The article highlights a letter from leaders of national youth organizing groups urging a cease-fire and warning that Biden’s stance on the Gaza conflict could lower youth voter turnout. The Biden administration, recognizing the importance of Michigan and young voters, reevaluates its approach to the conflict.
Biden administration realizes at this point that they need course correction for their discourse on the war. In the first weeks, President Biden repeatedly supported Israeli military action in Gaza as self-defense; he doubted the number of casualties among Palestinian civilians and was against a cease-fire. Biden administration used the veto power to stop a UN resolution calling for a cease-fire. Israel imposed a total blockade on Gaza, not allowing water, electricity, fuel, and supplies to enter Gaza to increase the pressure on Hamas.
A shift occurred as protests intensified and discontent spread within the administration’s ranks. Biden began advocating for humanitarian pauses instead of an immediate cease-fire, citing potential deals for hostage exchanges. Pressure from both the streets and within the administration prompted a course correction, leading to an increased focus on allowing humanitarian assistance into Gaza.
The discontent within the administration became public, with more than 500 political appointees and staff members from various government agencies sending a letter to President Biden opposing his support for the Israeli military action on the ground it would hurt the US interest in the region. Senators also called for more humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
In Michigan, over two dozen legislators urged Biden to work towards a lasting cease-fire, emphasizing international calls for a truce and the release of hostages. These developments coincide with recent polls indicating Trump’s lead over Biden in key states. Last month, a New York Times poll found that Trump is ahead of Biden by 5 points in Michigan, 5 points in Arizona, 6 points in Georgia, 10 points in Nevada, and 4 points in Pennsylvania.
In response to mounting pressure, the Biden administration played a significant role in negotiating a deal to exchange hostages, accompanied by a temporary pause in fighting and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Whether these policy changes will be sufficient to repair potential damage to Biden’s 2024 electoral chances remains uncertain.
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