Trump, Biden seek to dominate Michigan presidential primary. What to know

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A resident votes at an early voting site in Marshall, Michigan, on Feb. 17, 2024.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Republican ex-President Donald Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden on Tuesday expect to notch decisive victories in Michigan’s primary elections that will bolster their campaigns heading into Super Tuesday next week.

Both candidates face challengers within their own parties, but those few remaining rivals pose little threat to the front-runners, neither of whom have lost a single nominating contest this cycle.

Republican former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley has vowed to keep up the fight against Trump, even after losing by 20 points in her home state of South Carolina over the weekend.

Yet, Haley still netted roughly 40% of the vote, making it less of a rout than many polls ahead of the race had anticipated. The results indicated to some political analysts that Trump’s grip on the GOP may not be as firm as he asserts.

Trump’s challenge in Tuesday’s race, then, is to achieve a sweeping victory that mirrors his massive advantage in the polls and validates his claim that the primary fight is over.

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota is trudging forward with his campaign against the incumbent president, who has won all available delegates so far. Biden even beat Phillips in New Hampshire as a write-in candidate.

Nonetheless, Biden faces the prospect of an organized opposition Tuesday for the first time this cycle, from voters who are furious at what they see as Biden’s unwillingness to demand a ceasefire to Israel’s military incursion into Gaza.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is encouraging Democrats to protest Biden’s stance by voting “uncommitted” in the primary.

The effect this bloc of opposition has on the overall vote will offer an early indicator of how much clout progressive voters could have on the Democratic contest.

Michigan is one of the key battleground states that helped Biden defeat Trump in 2020. The state’s Democratic leaders rescheduled the primary election to take place earlier in the year, in hopes of giving it a greater effect on the presidential race.

Tuesday’s contest, however, is expected to further solidify Trump and Biden as their parties’ respective leaders in the run-up to a likely general-election rematch.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. Voters are allowed to register and cast a ballot on the same day.

The state has a closed primary, meaning registered voters must make a party ballot selection in their application. Early voting ran for nine days, from Feb. 17 through Sunday. More than one million votes have already been cast in the 2024 presidential primaries as of Monday.

People cast their ballots during early voting in the state’s primary on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Feb. 20, 2024.

Jeff Kowalsky | AFP | Getty Images

On the Democratic side, 117 pledged delegates are up for grabs in Tuesday’s contest. For Republicans, just 16 statewide at-large delegates will be won through the results of the primary election. Another 39 will be allocated at state party conventions Saturday.

The 16 Republican statewide at-large delegates will be allocated in proportion to the primary results, with candidates needing to receive at least 12.5% of the vote to qualify for any delegates. The remaining 39 delegates will be allocated at 13 congressional district conventions on March 2.

Biden won every county in Michigan’s 2020 Democratic primary. This time around, he enjoys not only an incumbent advantage, but also a much less popular challenger than Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., whom he bested by double digits in 2020.

Trump, who in 2020 was running for reelection, won 94% of that year’s GOP primary in Michigan.

Biden beat Trump in the general election by about three percentage points.

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