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Trump wins Michigan's Republican primary

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Michigan is the latest state to vote in the 2024 presidential primaries. We are seeing live results roll in this hour, although The Associated Press has already called the race. According to The AP, President Biden has won the Democratic primary in Michigan, and former President Trump has won the Republican primary there. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea, who is based in Michigan, is here to go over the results with us. Hey, Don.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Hello.

CHANG: Hello, hello. OK, so both of these race calls came from The AP right at 9 p.m. Eastern when polls were closing there. It looks like both Biden and Trump will sweep Michigan, which is no surprise, right?

GONYEA: No, no. No surprise at all. And let's just - let's break it down. Let's start with the Republicans. Trump performs well with the Midwestern base of Republican voters that he has. And he did well in Michigan here tonight. Nikki Haley - still in the race so far, votes still being tallied - she has roughly 30% of the vote right now. She does not have a path to the nomination, but she has committed to stay in the race through Super Tuesday. That's next Tuesday.

CHANG: Right.

GONYEA: The bad news for Haley is she's just hovering there around 30%. In New Hampshire and South Carolina, she did better for that. The good news for Haley, she's still maintaining around a third of the vote. And that's - that is a significant concern for Trump. He won't admit it, but those are voters he's going to have to win back over at some point.

CHANG: Yeah.

GONYEA: So jumping over to the Democratic side, President Biden is not facing any real opposition. Congressman Dean Phillips is on the ballot in Michigan, remains in the race, didn't have much of an impact so far, like very low single digits. But in Michigan, choosing no candidate, choosing uncommitted, had more of an impact in this race Tuesday night. In Michigan, voters are able to select uncommitted right on their ballots. There's a box there. And activists who are angry over President Biden's policies toward Gaza - they want a cease-fire there, and they want him to push hard for it. They launched a campaign of protest votes...

CHANG: Right.

GONYEA: ...Trying to get people to vote uncommitted.

CHANG: Yeah, talk more about that campaign to get people to protest vote in this primary.

GONYEA: So organizers said for this primary, just don't show your support to Biden as a protest. Their goal was to get 10,000 votes. And I can tell you, they blew past that.

CHANG: Wow.

GONYEA: With only 10% of the votes counted, they were already at something like 17,000. So this is going to be a good night for them. They've shattered that - probably that low-ball target they had set from themselves, right? But there is a caveat - it's not unusual to have a lot of uncommitted votes cast in a primary. In 2012, President Obama was an incumbent on the ballot. There were 20,000 uncommitted votes cast. So it's a choice voters make. But still, it does send a message this time.

CHANG: Right, OK. And real quick, Don, can you just contextualize the result of this race? - because, you know, in Michigan, Trump won it in 2016; Biden won Michigan in 2020. But what do these results tell us now even though the results are not surprising?

GONYEA: Yeah, I mean, they tell us what's important to voters, what they're thinking about. I think it's important that there was high turnout in this Michigan primary today. But both of these candidates are going to have to work hard at shoring up their base and their core constituencies.

CHANG: That is NPR's Don Gonyea reporting from Michigan. Thank you so much, Don.

GONYEA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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.

Don Gonyea
You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.