More than 8% of Wisconsin Democrats voted “uninstructed” in the state’s primary Tuesday, in an effort to warn President Joe Biden that he is alienating voters in a state where he narrowly won against former President Donald Trump in 2020.

The “uninstructed” votes tallied more than 47,000 ― over twice the initial goal set by Listen To Wisconsin, the grassroots campaign that mobilized people to send a message with their vote demanding a policy change over the war in Gaza. As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 95% of primary votes had been counted. Biden secured Wisconsin in 2020 by a little over 20,000 votes.

Kyle Johnson, the political director for the state’s uninstructed campaign, told HuffPost that the turnout was partly a result of the campaign’s outreach ― they made more than half a million calls and sent 2 million texts over three weeks ― and partly because the message resonated so widely with voters.

“This is a sign. This is a mandate for Biden to take action,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how [the White House] can continue to overlook this broad band of folks who’ve come together to say [the war] has to stop.”

Similar protest votes across the country, especially in Michigan and Minnesota, have also surpassed expectations. In Michigan, more than 13% of the state’s Democratic voters voted “uncommitted,” while in Minnesota, a shocking 20% of Democratic voters cast their ballots for “uncommitted” ― over twice the number who voted for Rep. Dean Phillips (D), challenging Biden for the 2024 presidential nomination, in his home state.

At least 26 delegates from the “uncommitted” movement will be at the Democratic convention in August, including from Michigan, Minnesota, Hawaii and Rhode Island. Wisconsin’s “uninstructed” voters did not meet the 15% minimum threshold to qualify to send delegates.

Dissent has grown among Democratic voters who are frustrated with the president’s staunch support for Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza, where more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in the past six months. Israel has faced criticism for targeting aid workers, limiting aid and bombing hospitals in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack where roughly 1,200 people were killed and about another 250 were taken hostage.

Organizers of the uncommitted campaigns said Biden risks losing the presidential election in November if he doesn’t change course in Gaza, including by calling for a cease-fire and reinstating aid to the Palestinian relief agency.

A majority of U.S. voters support a permanent cease-fire and de-escalation of violence in Gaza, according to a poll conducted in December. That number is even higher among likely Democratic voters, with 76% calling for a cease-fire. A separate poll conducted in February found that a majority of Muslim and Jewish Democrats also favor a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

“Dropping bombs on innocent lives is not the way to move forward, regardless of what political party you’re affiliated with,” Johnson said. “If we come together and continue to make waves and continue to organize and continue to escalate our tactics as we’ve been doing, as we grow the movement, it’s hard for politicians to overlook it.”


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