Skip to main content
Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Journalism protects democracy

Trustworthy, nonpartisan local news like ours spurs growth, fosters relationships, and helps to ensure that everyone is informed. This is essential to a healthy democracy. Will you support the nonprofit, nonpartisan news that makes Michigan a better place this election year?

Make your tax-deductible contribution today.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate

Michigan 2024 results: 13% of Democrats ‘uncommitted.’ Will it matter to Biden?

President Joe Biden stands at a podium
More than 13% of Michigan Democratic primary voters cast ballots for “uncommitted” on Tuesday, but experts say it likely won’t make much of a difference to President Joe Biden or his stance on Israel. (Jonah Elkowitz /
  • More than 100,000 Democrats voted ‘uncommitted’ in Tuesday primary
  • That surpassed ‘uncommitted’ tallies in the last three presidential primaries, but still amounted to less than 15% of Tuesday’s vote
  • The Listen to Michigan hoped a high uncommitted vote turnout would send a message to President Joe Biden on the Israel-Hamas war

More than 100,000 uncommitted voters in Michigan’s Democratic primary made a dent in Joe Biden’s otherwise uneventful victory Tuesday, exposing a potential pressure point for his re-election campaign among voters dissatisfied with his stance on the Israel-Hamas war.

Far more uncertain is whether that dent signifies a serious concern for Biden or will spur his administration into calls for a ceasefire, as advocates of the effort hope. Observers of the effort say while the turnout was higher than organizers hoped, it is unlikely to be big enough to make a change.

As expected, Biden and former President Donald Trump won big on Tuesday. As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, Biden secured 81.1% of the vote with 98% of ballots counted, per unofficial results from the Associated Press. Trump took home 68.2% of the vote to former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s 26.5%.

The AP called Michigan for both Biden and Trump at 9 p.m., as the last of Michigan’s polls closed.


But while Biden may not have had a serious opponent on the Democratic ticket, easily beating U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, pro-Palestinian activists may pose a challenge: In all, 13.3% of primary voters cast “uncommitted ballots” in the Democratic primary.

“Today, thousands said, ‘enough’,” Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud wrote in a social media post Tuesday night. “As American citizens and Michigan voters, we have made our voices heard at the ballot box. Now, it is up to President Biden to listen to Michigan and do the right thing.”

Critics have argued Biden — who on Monday suggested a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas could come as soon as next week — should reassess his ongoing support of Israel’s actions in Gaza as the Palestinian civilian death toll climbs.

But observers warned Biden must tread carefully as large swaths of voters support his position on Israel.


“If he (changed positions), he might alienate more voters who agree with his current policy than who disagree with it,” said Dave Dulio, director of the Center for Civic Engagement and distinguished professor of political science at Oakland University. 

Uncommitted movement

Past efforts to vote uncommitted have been mixed, with the option notching less than 2% of the vote in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential primaries. 

The only time in recent history a sizable turnout occurred was 2008, when Democrats used it to signal their displeasure with then-candidate Barack Obama not appearing on the Michigan ballot.

Then, more than 238,000 Michiganders — just over 40% of the total vote — went uncommitted. 

In this year’s Democratic primary, uncommitted voters vastly outnumbered Biden supporters in Dearborn and Hamtramck, home to the country’s largest concentration of Arab American and Muslim American populations. 

Unofficial results in Dearborn show the uncommitted vote outpacing Biden’s results 56.7% to the president’s nearly 40%. Results from Hamtramck were starker, with uncommitted getting about 61%.

Van drives down street
A box van with screens displaying the phrase "Request Democratic ballot, vote uncommitted" drives around Dearborn on Tuesday. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons).

Yousef Salmassi of Dearborn was among the voters who cast their ballot as uncommitted on Tuesday. 

Salmassi took issue with Biden’s lack of public calls or support for a ceasefire in Gaza, telling Bridge he could withhold his vote again come November.

Dearborn was the epicenter for the vote uncommitted movement. There, the group American Arab and Muslim Political Action Committee handed out flyers instructing individuals on how to vote uncommitted in both English and Arabic. A van adorned with a slogan encouraging residents to vote uncommitted circled city streets.

“The Palestinian people, in general, are struggling on a day-to-day basis and we're funding it, basically,” Salmassi said.


The movement was aided by U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who teamed with the progressive activist group Our Revolution to put out 87,000 robocalls urging voters to vote uncommitted.

“This is the way we can use our democracy to say – listen. … Listen to the majority of Americans saying, ‘enough,’” Tlaib said in a video posted to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. 

Looking ahead to November

Adrian Hemond, founder and CEO of the Lansing-based firm Grassroots Midwest, said the uncommitted effort made a “huge gamble” and came up short.

He said 25% uncommitted votes would be a “reasonable mark for success.” Anything less could be potentially ignorable, considering many who voted uncommitted Tuesday may likely still vote for Biden come November.

“The fact is, if they can’t get to at least the mid-teens in at least the percentages, this isn’t worth talking about at all. … If we can’t get to the mid-teens, what even is this?” Hemond said.

That sentiment was somewhat shared by Dulio. With a roughly 13% turnout for the movement, he said it wouldn’t surprise him if the Biden campaign would go on to ignore calls from supporters of Listen to Michigan, “because they (can) confidently say that it amounted to almost nothing.”

“Is that (turnout) going to get Joe Biden to change his position on Israel? I would submit that it’s not,” Dulio said. 

Only donate if we've informed you about important Michigan issues

See what new members are saying about why they donated to Bridge Michigan:

  • “In order for this information to be accurate and unbiased it must be underwritten by its readers, not by special interests.” - Larry S.
  • “Not many other media sources report on the topics Bridge does.” - Susan B.
  • “Your journalism is outstanding and rare these days.” - Mark S.

If you want to ensure the future of nonpartisan, nonprofit Michigan journalism, please become a member today. You, too, will be asked why you donated and maybe we'll feature your quote next time!

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Pay with PayPal Donate Now