With 2019 marking the end of eight years of Republican control of both the governor’s office and state legislature, a new University of Michigan survey shows divided opinions among Michigan’s local government leaders about where the state is headed.
As in the past, these opinions are associated with partisan identification. Fifty-one percent of Democratic local leaders said the state is going in the right direction. In contrast, only 31% of Republicans and 24% percent of independents believe that the state is headed in the right direction.
“This latest swing in evaluations establishes a pattern viewed through a of tracking across three administrations,” said Tom Ivacko, interim director of the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at U-M’s Ford School of Public Policy. “Much like the citizens they represent, local leaders’ beliefs about state policymakers and where they are taking the state are closely tied to their own partisan identification.”
In a similar pattern, the survey finds almost 63% of Democratic local leaders give a positive rating to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Only 23% of independent and 12% of Republican local leaders rate Whitmer’s performance as “good” or “excellent,” so far.
“Gov. Whitmer is starting out with evaluations that are remarkably similar to Gov. Snyder’s in his first year,” said Debra Horner, CLOSUP project manager. “She has slightly higher assessments among Democrats than Gov. Snyder had among Republicans in 2011.
“But she receives almost exactly the same low positive ratings he had among local leaders from the opposing party and among Independents. It will be interesting to see how this tracks in the future.”
Positive job evaluations for the Michigan legislature’s performance, found particularly among Republican local leaders, has fallen slightly compared to last year—down 21% from 28% in 2018.
The data come from the Michigan Public Policy Survey, an ongoing poll of Michigan’s 1,856 local governments conducted by CLOSUP launched in 2009. The spring 2019 survey received a 73% response rate with results from 1,364 jurisdictions.