Pollster: The Bernie Sanders' Vote in Dearborn in 2016 Was Comparable to the Uncommitted Vote in 2024

February 29, 2024, 12:36 PM by  Allan Lengel

On Tuesday, 13.1 percent of Michigan's Democrats voted uncommitted in the primary, with many doing so to protest the Biden administration's policy in the Israel-Hamas war.

But pollster Ed Sarpolus, executive director of Target Insyght of Lansing, says the number of uncommitted votes, 101,436 in the Michigan primary, may not be as big an abberation as some are making it out to be.

For one, he says, 10.6 percent of Democrats voted uncommitted in the 2012 presidential primary in Michigan when President Barack Obama was running for re-election. "It's not unusual to have a double-digit uncommitted vote, though 2024’s 13 percent is 2.4 percentage points higher.'

Secondly, he said nothing really changed in 2024 from 2016 in the key city of Dearborn, home to a large Arab-American and Muslim population.

In Dearborn, Hillary Clinton got 4,730 votes in 2016 compared to Biden's 4,517 in 2024. The uncommitted vote accounted for 6,290 in 2024 compared to 7,126 votes for Sanders in 2016. He said Biden garnered more votes in Dearborn than Trump's 3,973 and Nikki Haley's 1,390. 

"The uncommitted vote in 2024 is almost indentical to the Bernie Sanders vote in 2016," he said. "I don't think the protest vote this year was as big a success as its organizers claimed."

Should Biden be concerned?

Absolutely, says Sarpolus, pointing to Clinton's loss to Trump in the general election in 2016 by 10,704 votes.

He said Biden has to work on bringing the uncommited back in the fold, both in the Arab and Muslim communities and the Bernie Sanders Democrats in liberal places like Ann Arbor. He said Biden's people have been reaching out to the Arab community in Michigan and have been pushing for a ceasefire and a two-state solution. 

"If the election were held today, it would be very close," Sarpolus said. "But we won't really know until Biden and Trump are the official candidates."

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