Michigan primary election 2024: Live updates

It’s Election Day in Michigan and voters headed to the polls to make their picks in the state’s presidential primary.

If this seems earlier than normal, you’re correct! Michigan moved up its presidential primary election as part of a nationwide shake-up of the electoral calendar led by the Democratic National Committee, and the state’s presidential primaries going forward will take place on the fourth Tuesday in February.

On this warm Tuesday − seriously, we might break a temperature record − polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. local time (note that several counties in the Upper Peninsula are on Central Time, while the rest of the state is on Eastern Time.)

More: When will we see Michigan primary election results? How to find the latest numbers.

On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden is the frontrunner and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn. is also actively campaigning. On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump is the frontrunner, with former ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley running against him. Republican Ryan Binkley suspended his campaign a few hours after Michigan’s polls opened. Learn more about the candidates in our voter guide.

Here’s what we heard at polling places across the state, from rural Newaygo County on the west side of the state to in the heart of Detroit.

In Dearborn today, some Arab American voters said they were voting “uncommitted” to send a message to the world from the heart of Arab America that the United States government’s military support for Israel is hurting both Palestinians and also America’s stature in the world and its economy. They called for the U.S. to invest more in its people rather than sending money to foreign nations such as Israel.

“We have to tell him to stop killing Palestinian people,” Imad Alsoofi, 47, of Dearborn, who voted uncommitted, said outside the Salina school. “We have to bring the money for the American people. The American people right now they are hungry, they are homeless. Why all the money for overseas? American people first.”

Read the full story here.

In the 2024 Michigan presidential primary, Trump appears to still hold the most sway with voters in rural Michigan.

In Newaygo County, voters leaving the polls Tuesday afternoon weren’t shy about their support for the former president. Joe Williams, 61, wore a camouflage baseball cap with “TRUMP” in bold letters on the front to vote at Newaygo city hall.

“He showed everybody what it’s supposed to be like,” said Williams, of Newaygo. An ardent conservative, Williams said he doesn’t believe President Joe Biden will be the Democratic presidential nominee come November, speculating it could be former First Lady Michelle Obama or California Gov. Gavin Newsom. So far, neither Obama or Newsom has offered any indication they were looking to run, although that hasn’t quelled speculation in some circles.

Like Trump, Williams believes the 2020 election was stolen. In the years since Biden won the election, Trump has continued to float unfounded claims of election fraud in 2020, despite numerous audits failing to find any such fraud and a gaggle of lawsuits from Trump and his allies all failing to reverse the election’s results.

Still, Trump’s supporters in this deeply red pocket of Michigan view him as having the best chance to beat Biden in a general election, instead of a new candidate like Haley.

Having already served a term in the White House, Trump will know how to “clean house” and avoid the pitfalls of his first term, said Christina Deryke, 61, also of Newaygo. She said career politicians made sure Trump “got stabbed in the back a lot.”

Deryke mentioned security at the U.S. southern border with Mexico as one of her most pressing issues, and hopes a second Trump term means the completed construction of a border wall.

“I think the majority of Americans feel the same way I do,” she said. “And we’re patriotic. We’re American. And we’re going to remain that way.”

Further north along Highway M-37, through a small swath of the Manistee National Forest, White Cloud resident Charles Smith also cast his Republican primary ballot for Trump Tuesday.  

“We have to have a little more conservative behavior coming out of Washington,” said Smith, 69.

Like Williams and Deryke, Smith doesn’t believe Haley poses a better chance of defeating Biden in a general election than Trump, saying “I’ve seen I’ve seen what Trump can do. And we did well when he was there.”

In Detroit – a Democratic stronghold where Biden defeated Trump with 94% of the vote in 2020 – those who voted for Biden Tuesday expressed different perspectives on the primary as they headed to vote at Greater Grace Temple on the city’s west side.

Felicia Hogan, 58, of Detroit, said she wouldn’t have liked to see more competition against Biden in the primary. “I just believe in President Biden. He’s great. He’s been doing great things with the economy,” she said. “He’s like a grandfather and he’s knowledgeable.”

But Gary Kedzierski, 59, of Detroit – who said he also voted for Biden Tuesday – wanted Biden to face a more formidable challenge from within his own party during his reelection campaign. “I’m definitely voting for Biden, but at the same time, I wish there was another candidate on the ballot,” he said. He said he would have liked to see California Gov. Gavin Newsom enter the race.

Both Detroit voters, however, leveled criticisms about a push to vote “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary to pressure Biden to demand a cease-fire in the war in Gaza. It’s Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war, not Biden’s, said Kedzierski. “I think that they’re putting too much on Biden,” he said of those calling for the protest vote.

Hogan, meanwhile, blasted the effort altogether. “I think it’s ridiculous,” she said, characterizing it as divisive.

Heading into the fall, both voters want to see Biden once again emerge as the winner in a likely rematch against Trump. “I think that right now, if it was ran today, he might lose,” said Kedzierski, of Biden. But he predicts that as the general election nears, voters will remember what it was like to live under a Trump presidency. “People don’t want another four years of that,” he said.

Trump delivered a primary day message of his own to Michiganders, calling in to WFDF-AM (910) in metro Detroit to urge voters to go to the polls and trashing Biden, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and UAW President Shawn Fain.

He called Fain – who delivered the UAW’s endorsement of Biden last month after the president walked the picket line with striking workers last fall – “absolutely atrocious.” As for Whitmer, he called her “a terrible governor who sold you out.” He also referred to Biden as “pathetic… the worst president we’ve ever had by far.”

Read the full story here.

With Election Day upon us, two Democratic Michigan officials are leading in different directions. U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, posted a video explaining her “uncommitted” vote, while Whitmer warned on national media appearances that such votes could give Trump a boost come November.

Still, Whitmer predicted a “sizable number of votes for uncommitted” in an interview with NBC News.

Get the full story here.

In the village of Chesaning, in southern Saginaw County, voting was steady early Tuesday morning amid balmy weather at the Chesaning Township hall.

Saginaw County has become a political bellwether in Michigan. Since 1992, the county has voted for the statewide winner in every election.

Rural Chesaning Township is a more conservative part of the county, but a range of presidential preferences was evident among those casting their ballots Tuesday.

Doug Moeggenborg, a financial advisor, said he came out to vote for Haley.

“Am I excited? Not really,” Moeggenborg said as he left the township hall. “We all have to vote. It’s our duty to vote. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”

Though he’s not enthusiastic about either Biden or Trump, Moeggenborg said that if faced with a Biden-Trump contest in November, as expected, he will back the Republican candidate.

The main issue for Moeggenborg is securing the border, because he wants his family and American citizens to be safe, he said.

He said he’s not been pleased with the performance of the last three presidents as the federal deficit has climbed and divisiveness has increased.

“Back in the day, you used to be able to talk about this with people and not get mad. We’ve lost the sight of God in our lives.”

Deb and Bryan Taylor, both retired skilled trade workers from GM, went to the township hall to vote for Trump.

“He’s the only one out there who’s going to get this country back on track,” said Deb Taylor, who said she wants Trump to pick up where he left off four years ago, cleaning out “the swamp” in Washington, D.C. and fighting “the deep state.”

Securing the border is also a big issue for Bryan Taylor, who said he is fed up with “all the stuff that’s going on in Washington, and all the corrupt politicians.” Trump, he said, is “the only one that’s going to weed this out.” He believes many union members and retired union members, like him, will be voting for Trump in 2024.

Asked whether he is confident the presidential vote will be accurately counted and reported, Bryan Taylor said that “now is not the time to give up,” but that if Trump is not declared the victor in November, “I’ll pretty much think there is still voter fraud.”

Deb Taylor said the news media has been a major disappointment to her. She used to watch Fox News, but “somehow they got compromised,” and “they’re all siding with Biden.”

Joe Henning, a retired GM millwright, said he voted for Biden Tuesday at the Chesaning Township hall in Saginaw County.

“I wish there were more people. More choices on both sides,” Henning said after casting his ballot.

Asked how he feels about Biden, Henning said presidents “don’t do it on their own,” and “they’ve got hurdles to jump through.”

He said he finds himself in the minority as a Democratic voter in southern Saginaw County and would consider voting for certain Republican candidates, but he does not feel Trump, based on his record, is fit to be president.

More: Here’s who can vote in Michigan’s presidential primary

Dawud Walid, 52, of Canton Twp., is the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan Chapter. He voted ‘uncommitted’ at the Village Theater at Cherry Hill Tuesday morning.

“I’m voting to express my discontent with the Biden policy in regarding his support for what the Israeli government is doing to the people of Palestine,” Walid said.

He’s likely not to be alone — an organized campaign is urging voters to vote uncommitted, seeking at least 10,000 such votes to signal to Biden support for a cease-fire. An EPIC-MRA survey of 600 active and likely Michigan voters conducted Feb. 13-18 found 53% of respondents − including 74% of self-described Democrats − said Israel should declare a cease-fire with Hamas to negotiate the release of hostages and provide humanitarian aid to Gaza rather than continue with the war.

Walid says he is a regular voter, plans to vote in the upcoming election in November and wants the current president to do better.

Billy Mia, of Grand Rapids, said he voted for Biden.

Standing outside Seventh Reformed Church on the city’s west side, Mia said he sees Biden as “the lesser of two evils” between the president and his presumed Republican challenger, Trump.

“Trump is a maniac,” Mia said Tuesday morning. “If I were checking boxes, from not necessarily what they do but from what they say, I’m more aligned with Joe Biden.”

Still, Mia credited voters who were voting “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary over Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza, for standing by their convictions.

Another Biden voter — David Hamel, 60, was also direct in his reasoning, saying “Donny can’t win.”

“Hopefully with this election we’ll be done with him and get back to some normalcy,” he said.

Hamel also said he had no problems with the uncommitted movement, but was critical of some of the messaging around it. He said he received a call from a phone banker Monday which referred to Biden as “genocide Joe.”

“I get that part of it really, they’re just slaughtering them and it breaks my heart. But Joe’s not the one shooting the gun.”

David Montgomery, 57, of Grand Rapids Twp. mentioned security at the U.S. southern border with Mexico and the state of the American economy as reasons he voted for Trump in the Republican primary Tuesday.

“My money is going nowhere near as far as it used to before the current presidency,” he said. “In my opinion, we have to make some change.”

But Montgomery said he’s not overly excited about the prospects of a Biden-Trump rematch this fall.

“I think there’s a lot of people holding their noses right now on this vote, including me,” he said. “I think both options stink, but at this point, I don’t think anybody’s going to take over Trump, and Biden, he’s not going to allow anybody to take his place unless he ends up in the old folks’ home.”

Age has been a question for Biden as he mounts his reelection campaign — at 81, he is already the oldest president to have served in the position. But Trump would be 78 at the time he took office if he were to win back the presidency, and would be older than any other president bar Biden.

Looking for more on Michigan’s elections this year? Check out our voter guide, subscribe to our elections newsletter and always feel free to share your thoughts in a letter to the editor.

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