By: Mo Berlin  | 

Michigan Arab-Americans Cast “Uncommitted” Ballots Against Biden

President Joe Biden may have won the Michigan Democratic primary on Tuesday, but the win came with a significant warning sign for the continued support of Arab-American Michiganders.

Voters in the state of Michigan expressed their frustration with Biden's pro-Israel foreign policy, opting to mark their ballots as "uncommitted" rather than support the President. This act of protest resulted in over 100,000 "uncommitted" votes, making up more than 15% of the total vote in the state.

Michigan, known for housing the largest percentage of Arab-Americans in the U.S., is home to the city of Dearborn, a city with a population of 110,000 Arabs. This city, along with others, is represented by Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American member of Congress. Tlaib, alongside Dearborn's Arab-American mayor, Abdullah Hammoud, endorsed the "uncommitted" protest, emphasizing a growing frustration within the community.

The results of Tuesday's election carry an extra toll as this was the first major swing state to hold its primary in 2024. While Biden did comfortably win the Michigan primary, the backlash comes as a concern in a state he likely cannot afford to lose in 2024. Michigan promises to be a key swing state in the general election this year, as the state was won by Donald Trump in 2016 by less than 1% and by Biden in 2020 by less than 3%. 

President Biden's foreign policies toward Israel could prove detrimental to his prospects in the general election. While it is a stretch to say these votes will all turn into Trump votes, it is likely that many Arab-American voters may vote third party, ultimately helping Donald Trump secure Michigan. This turn of events serves as a reminder that no demographic can be overlooked in the long race of American politics.

Dearborn voters have spoken to the Detroit Free Press Tuesday saying that even though they voted for Biden in 2020, they don't know whether they would vote for Biden in November in a rematch against former President Trump. Despite a large number of Arab-Americans' firm stance on Democratic policies, the “uncommitted” vote signals the start of a shift away from support for the Democratic Party in the 2024 election. This shift could have considerable implications given Michigan's projected role in the 2024 general election.

Rep. Tlaib made her stance clear stating, “I was proud today to walk in, and pull a Democratic ballot, and vote 'uncommitted.' President Biden is not listening to us. This is the way we can use our democracy to say: Listen to Michigan.”

The future political ramifications of this protest remain uncertain. While it's unclear whether “uncommitted” voters will withhold their support from Biden in the presidential election, the message they are sending to the President is clear. It is up to President Biden to either align more closely with their views or risk losing Arab-American votes in Michigan, and potentially the election as a whole.


Photo Caption: President Biden delivering a speech during the 2022 State of the Union.

Photo Credit: Office of U.S. House Speaker / Wikimedia Commons