Local government leaders in Michigan gave Gov. Rick Snyder a significantly higher job approval rating in 2012 compared to a year ago, and the officials were much more optimistic about the state's direction, a University of Michigan survey says.
But the state Legislature's approval rate only grew slightly from last year and lagged far behind the governor's, according to the study by U-M's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
The growing optimism and higher approval ratings came amid improvements in the Michigan economy and significant policy changes that have been reshaping the relationship between the state and local governments.
"Other surveys around the nation have not been very favorable about the general direction of states or gubernatorial performance. These findings suggest that Michigan and its governor may be trending in more positive directions," according to Barry Rabe, professor of public policy and director of the Ford School's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, which conducted the survey.
The poll, part of the Michigan Public Policy Survey series, reports that:
- 49 percent of local officials in 2012 rated Snyder's performance as good or excellent, compared to 37 percent the year before. Fewer than two in 10 (19 percent) say he's doing a poor job.
- Only 27 percent of the officials rate the Legislature's performance as either good or excellent, while 33 percent rate it as poor. This was a slight improvement from 2011 when 21 percent gave the Legislature positive ratings and 36 percent said its performance was poor.
- 50 percent of the local leaders believe Michigan is headed in the right direction, compared to 32 percent at the same time last year. The percentage of local officials who think the state is on the wrong track dropped from 50 percent in 2011 to 35 percent in 2012.
Officials who identified themselves as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all expressed increased levels of optimism compared to last year. But Republicans were more likely to give Snyder positive job approval ratings and to say that Michigan was headed in the right direction.
The study was conducted April 9 to June 18 and involved surveys sent via hardcopy and the Internet to top elected and appointed local officials in all counties, cities, villages, and townships in Michigan. A total 1,329 jurisdictions returned valid surveys, resulting in a 72 percent response rate. The margin of error for the survey overall was plus or minus 1.43 percentage points.
[Read the full report]