What Does the Uncommitted Vote in Michigan Mean for 2024?

Voting “uncommitted” became a protest movement against Biden policies on the war in Gaza. Credit…Rebecca Cook/Reuters

In Tuesday night’s results in Michigan, around one in eight Democrats voted “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary — a protest of the Biden administration’s policies toward Israel and the war in Gaza.

In some predominantly Arab American precincts in Dearborn, around three in four Democrats cast a protest vote for uncommitted.

Having one in eight Democrats vote uncommitted in an uncontested primary is not wholly unusual. As recently as the last time a Democratic president sought re-election, in 2012, 11 percent of Michigan Democratic caucusgoers voted for “uncommitted” instead of for Barack Obama.

Having three in four Democratic primary voters in Arab American communities do it, on the other hand, is an eye-popping figure. It goes well beyond the norm, and it’s a powerful indication that the war in Gaza poses serious political risks to President Biden.

What does it mean for the general election? That’s not an easy question to answer, but here are four things to consider.

1. A protest vote is hard to interpret

A vote for “uncommitted” was a serious form of protest against Mr. Biden, but it’s just not the same as voting for Donald J. Trump in the general election. That simple fact limits how much we can read into the results for November, especially as there was no exit poll to offer insight into the attitudes of protest voters.

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