Dating back to the 2022 midterms, President Biden has consistently outperformed the polls and predictions from the leading political pundits around the country. In those 2022 midterms, Biden and Democrats reversed a century-long trend of the President’s party losing seats in the House and Senate – thwarting a much predicted “red wave” and actually picking up critical seats. Last November, that theme continued in Virginia, where Democrats swept election night and retook control of the General Assembly despite polls and pundits suggesting otherwise. And just a couple of weeks ago, Democrat Tom Suozzi outperformed the polls in NY-3. This leads us to last night in the Michigan presidential primary, where President Biden – and the Democratic coalition more broadly – once again outperformed the polls and predictions from political pundits. Let’s take a look at the details. 

The Uncommitted Vote

In the weeks and days leading up to the primary, much was made about the uncommitted vote in Michigan and what it would mean for the Biden campaign going forward, for legitimate reasons. 

  • Yet, the returns don’t paint a grim picture for Biden at all. The best benchmark comparison for last night is the 2012 primary, during President Obama’s re-elect, when the percentage of uncommitted votes was just under 11%. 
  • As of now, it looks like the uncommitted vote in Michigan will end up at about 13%, a 2 point increase over the last time an incumbent Dem was up for reelection, and a far cry from doom for President Biden’s re-elect. 
  • Over 600,000 people voted for Biden in Michigan. Just over 100,000 voted uncommitted. 
  • It’s also important to note that President Obama averaged about 84% of the vote in the 2012 primaries, yet still went on to win in dominating fashion. 

It’s Trump Underperforming, Not Biden

  • In the last 538 average before the primary, it was predicted that Trump would win with a margin of +57. His actual margin of victory was +42, a 15 point underperformance of 538’s latest average. 
  • This is on the heels of New Hampshire and South Carolina, where Trump underperformed final polling averages by 7 and 8 points, respectively. 

That’s all for now. Our team will continue to examine the turnout data and what more we might be able to glean from Michigan as we head toward the general. For now – don’t believe every poll you see. Follow along in the days and weeks ahead @tbonier and @TargetSmart.