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MSU students discuss Michigan primary elections, Presidential candidates

February 26, 2024
Photo by Grace Montgomery | The State News

With the Michigan primary election being held on Tuesday, Feb. 27, many Michigan State University students expressed their thoughts on the presidential candidates and who they think will win the nomination for their respective party. 

The presidential candidates for the Democratic Party are President Joe Biden and third district Minnesota U.S. Representative Dean Phillips. The Republican Party's candidates are former President Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. 

According to the Associated Press live primary results count, as of 1:00 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, Trump is leading the nomination with 110 delegates- compared to Nikki Haley, who has 20 delegates, with 1,215 delegates needed to win. On the other hand, Biden is leading the Democrats with 91 delegates and Phillips has zero. 1,968 delegates are needed to win the nomination for the Democratic Party. 

“How did we get to this point?” Vice President of the Arab Cultural Society and neuroscience senior Saba Saed said. “I'm hoping these primaries can change a little bit of the candidates that are running for president ... and I do hope that people do go vote during the primaries.”

Specifically, Saed hopes people will vote uncommitted to call for a permanent ceasefire; during the primaries, this means not selecting Biden, she said.

“Voting uncommitted is basically one standing your ground and calling out Joe Biden,” Saed said. “As an American, it is your right to vote uncommitted (and) you have the right to vote uncommitted. It is actually doesn't do much other than just let Biden know that he's not going to be getting Michigan's vote, even though he really needs Michigan to be president.”

For Saed, who is Palestinian, voting uncommitted is owed to the lives lost in Gaza.

“If you are too busy kind of arguing of why it may not help or help, or you're gonna pick with the lesser evil, you are looking at these people that have died as just numbers or you're not putting value,” Saed said. “We should not be picking from the lesser evil. As Americans, we always just like have been taught that this is the greatest country in the world. But what if your two options for the presidency is a guy that has murdered or has been complicit in funding and murdering 30,000 people or another guy that (is) a racist (and) homophobic.”

Saed said other students on campus coming up to her and saying they will vote uncommitted is one way they can stand up for Palestinian students and their feelings. While she doesn't know who she wants to win on the democratic side, she said, if it's not Biden, she'll be "happy." 

“All politicians have lost my trust in a way, and I'm going to be going for what's the best option and not picking from the lesser evil,” Saed said. “I think people's rights are being used for political agendas and the fact that the US vetoed the UN resolution … I think the US actually is the one committing the genocide at this point, because it's our military, our tax dollars.”

Biochemistry and molecular biology sophomore Michael Fachinello said he thinks this year’s election will be a “rerun” of the 2020 election

“I don't think anyone's excited,” Fachinello said. "I think Republicans are really excited to vote for who they're voting for. But I feel like Democrats and Moderates aren't. I feel like if you're like super moderate, you really can't tell ... (and) you're looking at both candidates. And you're wondering how you got to this point. If you're a liberal, I guess (you) just got to kind of bite your lip and vote blue no matter. I definitely think Joe Biden appears as a weak candidate if you're moderate to liberal I guess I personally am not excited to see these two candidates.” 

Fachinello said he looks at Nikki Haley “more favorably” on the Republican Party because she comes from the GOP establishment

“I think a lot of her policies are a lot more measured than somebody like Trump would be,” Fachinello said. “I have some disagreements with her. But if I had to pick between the two, it's going to be Nikki Haley, 100 times out of 100. I think it's more of a professionalism to like, I can trust her more. I think she has actual better experience than Trump.” 

While Fachinello is not voting in the primary election, he said the primary serves as a preview of how people feel about Biden’s policy regarding Israel and Palestine

“I think we will definitely see kind of some science on how the Democrats feel about that, (and) I think that's part of the reason (Biden's) poll numbers are low," Fachinello said. "From that, I think we can expect to see different posturing coming from the White House regarding Isreal and Palestine, but that really hinges on how the primaries go.” 

Political science freshman Gabe McDougall said voting uncommitted in swing states like Michigan is where the election is going to be won. Like Fachienello, McDougall said this upcoming election will be similar to 2020, where Biden and Trump will face each other despite both not being “great options.” 

He said people are upset with Biden about Palestine and Israel and have concerns about his age. While McDougall does not support Trump's policies, he said voting uncommitted can affect the voter turnout

“Especially in the past couple of years, the politics has come to be seen as more of a like a choice of you're trying to choose between the lesser of two evils," he said. "I know that was like I heard that a lot in the 2020 election."

Though McDougall said he does not like Haley’s policies, he believes she is a better option than Trump and a “good conservative option.” 

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As for Robert F. Kennedy, who is part of the Independent Party, McDougall said he views him as a “fringe candidate,” but noted that the emergence of third-party candidates can create more paths for the future of voting. 

McDougall added that Dean Phillips could be a stronger candidate than Biden due to his young age. 

“I think he can be a good option, but then there’s some pretty big weaknesses,” McDougall said. “I've also seen that he wants to give like Elon Musk the cabinet position, which I don't think that's what America needs. I also think he’s not that well known.”

Saed said she would be “very disappointed” if Biden won the Democratic nomination. She said it's "not going to hurt anyone" to vote uncommitted.

“People blindly follow labels of 'Democrat' and they don't actually hold those people in power accountable, because Joe Biden still has been complicit in the murder of 30,000 people, and voting for him just tells me that you're okay with that," Saed said. "And that is just heartbreaking. I feel bad for those people because they are so out of touch with their humanity.”

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