Bad News for Biden: Governor Whitmer Uncertain of Outcome in Michigan

AP Photo/Al Goldis

Can Governor Gretchen Whitmer produce a win for Joe Biden in the general election in November? The governor said the quiet part out loud during an interview - she doesn't know.


The truth may lie in some recent polling. Michigan holds its primary today. According to Real Clear Politics, in the general election match between Trump and Biden, Trump is up 2 points over Biden. If RFK, Jr. is added, along with Cornel West and Jill Stein, Trump is up by 3 points. 

Trump won Michigan in 2016 and Biden won Michigan in 2020. Trump will easily win the Republican primary against Nikki Haley. The latest poll in Michigan released Monday shows Trump at 76 and Nikki Haley at 24. Trump leads Haley by 52 points. 

We know Biden will win the Democrat primary but how strong will his support be? There is an uncommitted movement happening in Michigan, originating in the Muslim Arab-American voter-heavy areas. Muslim voters want to show Biden their disapproval with his refusal to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. The Hamas wing of the Democrat Party wants Biden to feel some pain at the ballot box. How much will this affect Biden's final numbers? That remains to be seen. 

Governor Whitmer is worried. She knows that Biden cannot win re-election in November without Michigan, most likely. Rep. Rashida Tlaib is encouraging Muslim and Arab Americans in cities like Dearborn to not vote for Biden but to vote uncommitted in the primary. The Mayor of Dearborn is on board

Can Whitmer convince Muslim voters to stay with Biden in the primary?

Governor Whitmer is one of eight national co-chairs of Biden's re-election campaign. She was once on the shortlist to be Biden's vice president. She ticked one out of two important boxes for that gig - she's a woman but she's white, not black. Them's the breaks in the Biden administration. Kamala was chosen instead of Whitmer and others on the list. 


Arab Americans, irate over Mr. Biden’s support for Israel, are pushing Democrats to select “uncommitted” on the state’s primary ballot on Tuesday. Several recent general election polls show Mr. Biden running behind former President Donald J. Trump in Michigan, while another shows Mr. Biden leading. Prominent Democrats in Detroit and Lansing say they are worried not just about losing Arab Americans, but also about Black men and union workers and young people. 

That leaves Ms. Whitmer, one of eight national co-chairs of Mr. Biden’s campaign, who is seen by many Democrats as a future contender for the presidency, facing perhaps the biggest electoral test of her career even though her name is not on the ballot. Ms. Whitmer is particularly strong with moderate voters and suburbanites, and has forged deep ties with Black leaders in Detroit. But it remains to be seen whether she can help much with those most frustrated with Mr. Biden, including voters further to the left and Arab Americans.

One Democrat pollster isn't convinced she can pull it off. But she is ambitious and looking at a possible run for higher office so she will likely put in the work

“She’s going to have to carry him on her back past Election Day,” said Richard Czuba, a pollster who found Mr. Biden losing by 8 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup with Mr. Trump in a survey last month of Michigan voters for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV. “She’s going to have to use her popularity to bring back those Democrats and those independents.”

If Ms. Whitmer helps deliver Michigan for Mr. Biden in November, it would further cement her status as a rising Democrat who, at 52, qualifies as youthful in the realm of national politics. And if, as many suspect, she has future presidential ambitions herself, campaigning aggressively for Mr. Biden and showing her party she can deliver a very big, very important swing state might be the best way to build that résumé.


Whitmer was interviewed by Dana Bash on CNN's Sunday morning political show. She admitted she just doesn't know what will happen today in the primary. 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tells CNN's Dana Bash "we will see differences of opinion" in her state's Democratic primary but encourages Democrats to "cast an affirmative vote for President Biden."

Whitmer on potential Biden protest vote in Michigan: 'I'm just not sure what to expect'

That must have sent some alarms off in the White House. If a loyal surrogate like Whitmer is shaky about how much support Biden has in an important swing state like Michigan, that's very good news for Team Trump. 

We'll know tonight how it all plays out. 

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David Strom 6:40 PM | April 18, 2024