“Uncommitted” voters demonstrate how Biden’s support for Israel could cost him the election

Source: @UncommittedPA on Instagram
Source: @UncommittedPA on Instagram

Pennsylvania’s presidential primary election on April 23 was thought by many voters to be insignificant, considering President Biden had no serious challenger for the Democratic nomination. Progressives in the Democratic Party, however, took to the polls with a message for the Commander-in-Chief which they hope will change his campaign strategy moving forward.

The message: If you continue the incessant flow of military aid to Israel while it carries out mass bombing, starvation, and torture campaigns on the Palestinian people, we won’t vote for you in November.

Since October 7, more than 30,000 Palestinians including at least 12,000 children have been martyred by the Israeli regime. In the same time frame, the President has effectively handed Israel a blank check, costing US taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. Although his rhetoric toward Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister and Cheltenham High School alum, has become more critical in recent months, that rhetoric has been coupled with a military aid package of $15 billion.

In Philadelphia nearly 16,000 votes, almost 10% of the total in the city, were cast as write-ins. It’s unclear how many of those said “uncommitted”, but the number of write-ins was nearly seven times larger than in 2020’s Democratic primary. Statewide, nearly 6% of Democratic votes were for write-ins, totaling approximately 60,000.

What makes uncommitted voters’ message so powerful is that they are engaged in – not removed from – Democratic Party politics. Many of these voters helped elect the President four years ago, so they cannot be written off as third-party spoilers or non-voting activists. Instead, they must be seen for what they are: Democrats concerned that their taxes have been funding war crimes such as collective punishment of the Palestinian people for upwards of six months.

Others in the Democratic Party have expressed concerns that a write-in vote for “uncommitted” will result in a Trump victory in November. Highlighting any of Biden’s controversial policies will, in their view, tarnish his image, something his campaign has been working to improve in recent months. In January, the president had an approval rating of only 38%. Sitting at 43% now, the campaign can’t afford another plunge.

The President knows just how important it is to win the swing state, too. If he wants to repeat his 2020 victory over Donald Trump, an election he won by a margin of about 2%, he will have to take action to keep his base intact. During his recent three-day campaign tour of the Commonwealth with stops in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and his hometown of Scranton, he faced pro-Palestine protesters at each stop.

The threat of a Trump presidency is not lost on the uncommitted crowd either. In fact, it is a motivating factor behind their movement. If Trump or the Republicans were any better than the Democrats on this issue, these voters would simply switch their party affiliation. Instead, because they understand the potential threat of a Trump presidency, progressives who want to vote for Biden as a form of harm reduction need him to actually reduce harm in order to do so.

The way to improve Biden’s approval ratings and guarantee a win against an equally unpopular candidate is to fundamentally change his approach toward Israel. The situation has escalated past the need for a rhetorical shift and now requires a drastic material shift in the form of a complete end of military support to Israel and the demand of a permanent ceasefire. Will the President act in the interest of his base, or will he abandon the voters who once believed in him?

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