Michigan Takeaways: Presidential Primaries Show Warning Signs for Trump and Biden

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Joe Biden and Donald Trump easily won their party's primaries in Michigan, but Tuesday's results showed that both candidates have cause for concern in their bid to win the swing state in November.

An "uncommitted" vote in Michigan's Democratic primary was the first indication of how backlash over President Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza might impact his reelection campaign. Trump won his primary by a large margin, but support for rival Nikki Haley once again showed that some Republican voters may have misgivings about giving the former president another four years in the general election.

Here are some takeaways from Michigan:

Biden, Trump each move closer to party's nomination

Michigan was the last major primary state before Super Tuesday, and both sides were watching closely for implications for the November general election in one of the few genuine swing states left in the country.

Biden has now cruised to victories over lesser known candidates in South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire, which he won in a write-in campaign. Tuesday's results show that his standing is still strong in Michigan, which Biden returned to the Democratic column in 2020.

Trump has swept all five of the early state contests, including South Carolina, the home state of rival Haley. He now heads into Super Tuesday, when 15 states and one territory hold Republican nominating contests, as the overwhelming favorite to lock up the Republican nomination.

Michigan was one of three so-called blue wall states, including Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that Trump won in 2016. He predicted a big win beforehand.

Just 16 of Michigan's 55 Republican presidential delegates will be determined by the primary results, while the remaining delegates will be allocated during a March 2 convention. Trump's anticipated dominance at the state convention, where grassroots activists will play a key role, will decide the allocation of the remaining 39 GOP delegates.

Some Democrats express anger over Gaza with 'uncommitted' vote

Michigan has become the focal point of Democratic frustration regarding the White House's actions in the Israel-Hamas conflict. It has the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the nation.

That anger came through loud and clear on Tuesday as some voters marked "uncommitted" on their ballot in the Democratic primary. Biden still dominated the primary, but the result could be a concern in a state he won by less than 3% in 2020 and likely can't afford to lose this year.

Organizers of the "uncommitted" movement had purposely kept expectations low, having only seriously begun their push a few weeks ago. The "Listen to Michigan" campaign that organized the push said they were hoping for 10,000 votes, pointing to Trump's win of less than 11,000 votes in 2016 to show the significance of that number.

When Barack Obama ran for reelection in 2012, the last time a Democratic presidential incumbent sought re-election, the "uncommitted" option received close to 21,000 votes -- or 11 percentage points.

The "uncommitted" vote totals would need to be between 20 and 30 percentage points for Democrats to worry about their impact in November, said Richard Czuba, a pollster who has long tracked Michigan politics.

"Twenty percent gets my attention. If it rises to 25%, that gets a lot more attention and if it rises above 30%, I think that's a signal that Joe Biden has pretty substantial issues in his base," said Czuba.

Much of the "uncommitted" vote was expected to come from the east side of the state, in communities such as Dearborn and Hamtramck, where Arab Americans represent close to half of the population. Biden won Dearborn by a roughly 3-to-1 advantage in 2020 and Hamtramck by a 5 to 1 margin.

Some Republicans still oppose Trump

Despite Trump's clear victory in Michigan, Haley still saw significant support from the swing state's Republicans.

Some of her best results came in Oakland and Kent counties, where Democrats have been gaining ground in recent years, contributing to their recent statewide success. She also performed better in counties where the state's largest universities are located, Washtenaw and Ingham counties.

Trump has dominated in primaries with help from his base but his strength among general election voters remains unclear. The former president has appeared in Michigan regularly in the eight years since he became president, while Haley only began stumping in the state over the weekend.

AP VoteCast reveals that a large portion of Trump's opposition within the Republican primaries has come from voters who abandoned him before this year.

All three statewide Republican candidates that Trump endorsed in the 2022 midterms were crushed by Democratic incumbents.