Wisconsin's 'uninstructed' voters send Biden a message to change course on Gaza Organizers of the protest vote wanted to get at least 20,000 "uninstructed" votes in Tuesday's primary. The results indicate they exceeded that goal.

Wisconsin's 'uninstructed' voters send Biden a strong message on the war in Gaza

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1242424035/1242683186" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Last night, Democratic Party voters in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Wisconsin joined hundreds of thousands of people in other states who have cast uncommitted or uninstructed ballots in presidential primaries. Many did so to protest President Biden's handling of the war in Gaza. Well, the next time these voters have a chance to grade the president will, of course, be in November. And that election will be more consequential. Chuck Quirmbach of member station WUWM in Milwaukee reports on how these campaigns are thinking about their next moves.

CHUCK QUIRMBACH, BYLINE: About 48,000 people who voted in the Wisconsin Democratic primary bypassed the incumbent president on Tuesday and instead marked their ballot for the uninstructed delegation option. They captured about 8% of the Democratic primary vote, according to results from the Associated Press. Yet in the swing state of Wisconsin, last night's results were significant. The number of uninstructed Democratic primary votes exceeded the margin of Biden's victory over former President Donald Trump four years ago. In fact, it more than doubled that margin. Janan Najeeb of the Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine says that should be a wake-up call for the president.

JANAN NAJEEB: We have the power, really, to make President Biden a one-term president if that is his choice.

QUIRMBACH: But it's a threat organizers hope they won't have to carry out. Movement leader Layla Elabed of Michigan says if there is no lasting cease-fire by the time of the Democratic National Convention in August, the coalition will push to have that in the party platform. Elabed says they'll use their collective voice to focus on...

LAYLA ELABED: Uplifting the voices of Palestinians and the plight of Palestinians at the convention itself.

QUIRMBACH: In a movement that stretches over a dozen states and includes a wide variety of voters, there are many views on how to use the political leverage that comes with voting as a block on a single issue. Though Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler says he thinks many of these voters ultimately want to back Biden.

BEN WIKLER: There's a real opportunity for President Biden's leadership to bear fruit, to end this heartbreaking crisis and reach an enduring, just peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

QUIRMBACH: Wikler says if Biden can accomplish that, many will eventually return to backing the president.

For NPR News, I'm Chuck Quirmbach in Milwaukee.

Copyright © 2024 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.