Continuing war on Gaza drives huge ‘Uncommitted’ vote in Washington State
Faye Guenther, President of UFCW 3000, the state grocery worker union, which has endorsed the 'uncommitted delegates' vote, speaking alongside other supporters of the uncommitted delegates option. | Jim Brunner / The Seattle Times via AP

OLYMPIA—Well over 58,000 Washington State Democratic voters cast their ballots “uncommitted” and another 8,000 or more wrote “Ceasefire in Gaza” on the write-in line in the March 12 presidential primary.

It was an unprecedented outpouring of votes demanding that President Joe Biden act to end the genocide that has taken the lives of 35,000 Palestinians, a majority women and children in Israel’s war on Gaza.

Both Biden and ex-President Trump won their primary in the Evergreen State decisively, and voter turnout was 32.36%. But the strong vote against White House support of Israel’s war on Gaza nevertheless sent warning signals to the Biden campaign in a state that has voted for every Democratic Party presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan.

Rami Al-Kabri, lead organizer of “Uncommitted WA,” who is also deputy mayor of the city of Bothell, said the 7.5% vote for “uncommitted” shows that “President Biden’s current policies toward Gaza and Palestine are not in line with his voter base.”

Shasti Conrad, Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, said voters used their primary vote “as the opportunity to use the uncommitted delegate to send a message.”

Olgy Diaz, a Tacoma City Council member, speaking at the federal building in Seattle, urging Democrats to vote for the ‘uncommitted delegates’ option in the March 12 presidential primary. | Jim Brunner / The Seattle Times via AP

The Washington State Democratic Party Central Committee adopted a resolution recently urging Biden to reinstate funding for the U.N. agency that had been delivering desperately needed humanitarian assistance to millions of starving Palestinians in Gaza. The resolution also called on the president to support a “ceasefire in Gaza.”

Conrad added, “I do think people recognize the stakes, and when it is President Biden versus Trump, they will support Biden.”

Yet the arithmetic is also worrisome. Biden’s total statewide vote in this primary was 616,940. Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips garnered 21,501 votes, or 3%. Marianne Williamson got 19,424 votes, or 2.7%. Uncommitted votes totaled 58,149 or 8.1%, and write-in, 8,656—most of them “Ceasefire in Gaza.”

Assuming that in November’s General Election all these voters fill out their mail ballots to re-elect President Biden, it will total 653,862.

Meanwhile, Trump won the Republican primary with only 484,229 votes or 74.5%. Trump’s percentage was so low because his Republican rival, Nikki Haley, garnered 135,296 votes, or 20.8% of the Republican total. Assume that these votes for Haley as well as the handful of votes for Chris Christi, Ron DeSantis, etc. are captured by Trump, his total would be 596,160 votes.

Thus, even with the higher turnout expected in the general election, Biden could still see a narrower margin compared to 2020, one that some Democrats worry will be too close for comfort. Many pundits predict, however, that a large percentage of Haley’s supporters will switch to the Democrats.

Left and progressive forces in Washington State are taking nothing for granted. They are campaigning hard to pressure Biden to speak out—and act now—for a ceasefire in Gaza and to restore U.S. assistance to the Palestinian people terminated by Biden last month. At the same time, they are out holding signs at street corners urging a landslide vote against Trump in November.

Peace, an end to genocide, and the future of U.S. democracy are all on the November ballot.

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Tim Wheeler
Tim Wheeler

Tim Wheeler has written over 10,000 news reports, exposés, op-eds, and commentaries in his half-century as a journalist for the Worker, Daily World, and People’s World. Tim also served as editor of the People’s Weekly World newspaper.  His book News for the 99% is a selection of his writings over the last 50 years representing a history of the nation and the world from a working-class point of view. After residing in Baltimore for many years, Tim now lives in Sequim, Wash.