Opinion | Will Gaza Cost Biden Re-election?

Opinion | Will Gaza Cost Biden Re-election?

To some on the left, Levin’s combination of deep Michigan roots and defense of Palestinian rights made him seem like a uniquely promising vehicle for antiwar energies. In the left-wing magazine In These Times, the University of Chicago historian Gabriel Winant floated the idea of drafting Levin to run against Biden, writing, “The relationship between Israeli militarism and political authoritarianism here at home is one that he understands intimately.”

Levin, however, was uninterested. “I’m supporting Joe Biden. I’m super proud to have served with him,” he told Politico, comparing this moment in American politics to the political climate in Germany in 1932, when that country was on the cusp of Nazism. Levin hasn’t changed his mind about the importance of Biden’s re-election: By backing the “uncommitted” movement, he says, he’s trying to save the president, not destroy him.

Levin frames Listen to Michigan as a way for Democrats to express their outrage while leaving the door open to return to the fold in November and thus a pragmatic alternative to calls from a separate group of activists to abandon Biden. Many of those working on Listen to Michigan, he said, are “people who feel like it’s a pants-on-fire crisis that we have to change course on Gaza for substantive reasons” and that doing so is the best way for Biden to beat Trump. “That’s a beautiful thing, when practical political objectives line up with the right thing to do,” he said.

There are plenty of Democrats, in Michigan and elsewhere, who don’t see this alignment. The state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who has emerged as one of Biden’s leading surrogates, argues that protest votes in Michigan’s primary will only weaken Biden ahead of November. “Every vote that doesn’t support Joe Biden makes it more likely we have a Trump presidency,” she told me.

But a refusal to take disillusionment with Biden seriously could also make a Trump presidency more likely. A recent survey by the Michigan-based polling firm EPIC-MRA found that 53 percent of voters in the state and 74 percent of Democrats favored a cease-fire in Gaza. That survey showed Trump ahead in Michigan by four points, though that is equal to the poll’s margin of error. “It points to a potential Trump win unless things dramatically change,” Bernie Porn, a pollster for EPIC-MRA, told The Detroit Free Press.

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