Anti-Biden 'uncommitted' voters set to win 2 delegates in Michigan primary, boosting protest

That will give the voters a formal voice at the Democratic National Convention.

A protest movement to cast "uncommitted" votes over President Joe Biden in Michigan's Democratic primary is estimated to have won two delegates in the nominating race -- evidence that Biden's detractors gained some traction in the swing state after winning 13% of the total votes compared to Biden's 81%.

Overall, 117 Democratic delegates are apportioned based on the results of Tuesday’s primary and it's estimated that Biden won 115 while the uncommitted vote will win two.

That means uncommitted's voters will have a voice -- even if a relatively small one -- at the Democratic Party's national convention in August, which will be dominated by Biden supporters looking to rally the party against Donald Trump.

"They [the uncommitted delegates] could protest. They could make recommendations to change bylaws," Florida delegate Nadia Ahmed previously told ABC News.

The vote total that the uncommitted movement received also suggests their differences with Biden over Israel's military campaign against Hamas could be a problem for him in a general election, if this same pattern repeats, because Biden only won Michigan in 2020 by about 150,000 votes.

To win any delegates, candidates either had to receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for any statewide delegates or 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district -- a requirement which dates back until at least 2012.

With about 95% of the expected vote reported as of Wednesday afternoon, Biden got some 618,000 ballots statewide and uncommitted got about 101,000. (On the Republican side, which did not see a similar protest effort, uncommitted got about 33,000 votes.)

Though the anti-Biden uncommitted votes didn't cross 15% statewide, as of Wednesday they had reached about 17% (approximately 14,500 ballots) in Michigan's 6th Congressional District, which includes Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan.

The Democratic uncommitted votes were also at about 17% (around 13,700 votes) as of Wednesday in the state's 12th District, just outside Detroit, which is represented by Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a high-profile supporter of the protest efforts.

The district also includes part of Wayne County, which has the largest percentage population of Middle Eastern or North African descent of any county in the country.

It's not uncommon for an incumbent president to enter a nominating convention with delegates unpledged to them.

In 2012, when President Barack Obama was running for reelection, the uncommitted vote garnered enough support in a handful of Southern states to cut into his delegate count.

PHOTO: Abbas Alawieh, spokesperson for Listen to Michigan, speaks to the press one day after the Michigan presidential primary, in Dearborn, Michigan, on February 28, 2024.
Abbas Alawieh, spokesperson for Listen to Michigan, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and Layla Elabed, campaign manager for Listen to Michigan, speak to the press one day after the Michigan presidential primary, at Haraz Coffee House in Dearborn, Michigan, on February 28, 2024.
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

The "Listen to Michigan" campaign had urged voters to chose uncommitted to push Biden to change his support for Israel's bombardment of Gaza in targeting Hamas fighters as retaliation for Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack.

More than 29,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to Gaza's Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health. Israel insists it takes steps to curb civilian deaths.

Listen to Michigan leaders celebrated their work on Wednesday.

“We organized and over 100,000 Michigan voters last night sent a clear message to President Biden that he needs to call for an immediate, permanent cease-fire and he needs to stop funding the Israeli military's war crimes. Our message has been clear,” Abbas Alawieh said.

Alawieh said that organizers have reached out to similar advocates in Minnesota and Washington state, which also have "uncommitted" options on their primary ballots.

"This issue of Gaza ... is not just a Michigan issue, it is an issue across the United States," Listen to Michigan campaign manager Layla Elabed said.

What the uncommitted vote results mean

Listen to Michigan had betting that if enough people cast uncommitted votes, the margin could shift Biden's politics so as not to risk losing the state, which has evolved in recent elections into a closely fought battleground.

Biden narrowly won Michigan in 2020 by some 150,000 votes -- less than half of the amount of people in the state who cited Middle Eastern or North African ancestry in the 2020 census.

In 2016, Trump won by about 10,700 votes -- the first Republican presidential candidate to win Michigan in decades.

The uncommitted protest organizers had hoped at least 10,000 people would vote with them on Tuesday, a nod to Trump's victory margin.

More optimistically, some supporters said they wanted to see them hit 15% of the total primary vote.

History provides some context about how popular uncommitted has or hasn't been in primaries past, even without a protest movement.

It got only about 1.2%, or 19,000 votes, in the 2020 Democratic primary when Biden ran against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In 2016, when Hillary Clinton and Sanders faced off, uncommitted got about 21,000 votes, or 1.8%.

PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the Senate's recent passage of the National Security Supplemental Bill, which provides military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2024 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the Senate's recent passage of the National Security Supplemental Bill, which provides military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb. 13, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

In 2012, in which Obama ran unopposed in the Democratic primary as the incumbent, uncommitted got about 21,000 votes, or 10.7%, and in 2008, after Obama removed his name from the ballot over an intraparty dispute, uncommitted votes -- many of which were seen as ballots supporting Obama -- got about 238,000 or 39.6%.

Delegates weren't actually awarded in 2012's Democratic primary because of another party conflict over primary timing.

But if they had been, Obama would have lost out on some as the uncommitted option cleared the necessary 15% threshold -- not only in one congressional district but two, similar to this year.

A senior Biden campaign adviser told ABC News after Tuesday's uncommitted result became clear, that "we understand that it's an emotional, painful, difficult situation for a lot of people."

"President Biden shares the goal of many of the folks who voted uncommitted, which is an end to the violence and a just and lasting peace. That is what he is working towards," this adviser said.

Michigan's primary rules allow any voter to cast a ballot in either the Republican or Democratic candidates and it's not clear how many of the uncommitted votes against Biden came from Democrats or from other state residents who specifically wanted to protest his Israel policies.

But if Biden were to lose 100,000 voters from his base of support in 2024, that could dramatically lower his chances of winning the state.

The Biden campaign adviser said they will continue to work to win over skeptics.

"We also know that nearly all of the folks voting uncommitted do not support the extremism, the xenophobia, and incompetence of Donald Trump. They want a President who listens and delivers. That's Joe Biden," the adviser said. "We will earn their votes between now and November."

ABC News' Mary Bruce contributed to this report.