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Democratic Base Hears "Listen to Michigan"

Updated: Apr 1

A survey conducted and funded by Poll Progressive Strategies suggests a larger-than-expected number of base Democrats will vote Uncommitted in the Democratic Presidential primary on February 27. Unlike other states, Michigan lists “Uncommitted” as an option on the ballot next to the qualified candidates. This year, a campaign called Listen to Michigan has been formed to encourage Democrats to vote Uncommitted as a protest against President Biden’s conduct of the War in Gaza.


The purpose of this poll is to test whether or not Listen to Michigan has broken through with highly engaged and loyal Democrats who have a history of voting for Joe Biden ("the base"). To reach these voters, the survey sampled registered Democrats who have voted in two of the last three presidential primary elections and are very likely to vote in the upcoming primary. The sample is significantly older (55% are over the age of 65) and less progressive (just 9% voted for Bernie Sanders in 2020) than the Democratic electorate as a whole.


Listen to Michigan appears to have gained traction with these Democratic base voters: 15% of respondents say they will be voting Uncommitted, compared with 75% who are voting for Joe Biden. Just 4% say they will vote for another candidate, and 7% say they are unsure. This is especially notable because the sample contained very few young voters, who are known to be the most disapproving of the Biden administration's handling of the war.


Listen to Michigan seems to be capitalizing on pre-existing sentiments in the electorate regarding the War in Gaza. Base Democrats are divided about the war: a plurality (44%) of respondents approve of Biden’s handling of the War in Gaza, while 30% say they disapprove and 26% are unsure. Respondents are far more unified on the topic of a ceasefire, however: 79% of respondents say they support the US calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, while just 7% are against. One-fifth of Democrats say that the War in Gaza is impacting their vote in the primary, and of those 42% say they’ll vote Uncommitted. 


Nearly half (46%) of respondents say that they have seen or heard something about the Listen to Michigan campaign. Those who have heard of the campaign are more likely to say they are voting Uncommitted (20%) while those who haven’t heard of the campaign are more likely to say they’re unsure. In fact, just 3% of the respondents who have heard of Listen to Michigan were unsure of how they'd vote, compared to 11% of those who hadn't heard of the campaign. The campaign also seems to be breaking through late: Biden does better with Democrats who voted early (80%) compared to those who are going to vote on election day (64%). 


This poll suggests that Listen to Michigan’s campaign is breaking through with dissatisfied base voters, though it is important to note that these respondents are more likely to be politically informed thanks to their age and their history of engagement. If the poll numbers are borne out, the Biden campaign will need to contend with a significant chunk of reliable Democrats being openly displeased with his handling of a major foreign policy issue. Whether or not he can keep these base Democrats energized in the November election may prove to be the deciding factor in this important swing state.


Data was collected from February 23-25, 2024. The sample consisted of n=281 registered Democrats who had voted in two of the last three presidential primaries in Michigan, with a margin of error of +/-6.0%. Data was collected via SMS-to-web. Results were weighted by gender and race based on the sample breakdown and exit polling. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, party breakdown, ethnicity, and region carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. This poll was funded by Poll Progressive Strategies alone and is not part of any candidate or issue campaign. 


Michigan 2024 Frequencies and Crosstabs
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