Local leaders’ pessimism about Michigan’s direction continues, but eases slightly from last year

July 2022

This report presents the opinions of Michigan’s local government leaders regarding the direction in which the state is headed, as well as their evaluations of the job performance of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the spring 2022 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS)— conducted between April 4 and June 6, 2022—and tracking comparisons to previous spring waves.

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Key findings

  • Statewide, 62% of Michigan’s local government officials say the state has gotten off on the wrong track, down slightly from 67% in 2021, yet still one of the highest levels since tracking began in 2011. Meanwhile, only 28% of local leaders say the state is generally going in the right direction, a slight improvement from 23% last year. 
    •  As in the past, these views are strongly associated with partisan identification, with most Republicans and Independents pessimistic about the state’s direction, compared with Democrats’ optimism. Among self-identified Republican local leaders, only 12% say the state is going in the right direction, similar to the 10% who said the same last year. Among Independent local officials there was more notable improvement, with 32% saying the state is currently headed in the right direction, up from 24% in 2021. Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters (72%) of self-identified Democrats remain positive about the direction of the state, up from 63% in 2021. 
  • Evaluations of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s job performance have also improved slightly, but continue to be underwater. Statewide, 44% of Michigan’s local officials rate her performance in 2022 as “poor,” a slight improvement from 48% in 2021. Meanwhile, 23% rate her performance as “fair” (up from 19% last year) while 30% rate it as either “excellent” or “good (unchanged from 2021).”
    • Again, as with ratings of previous Michigan governors, these ratings are correlated with partisanship. Ratings of good or excellent for Governor Whitmer are found among 81% of Democratic local leaders, compared with 38% of Independents and just 10% of Republicans.
  • Local leaders’ ratings for the Michigan Legislature saw the most improvement, though they are still lukewarm. Statewide, 27% of local leaders say the Legislature is currently doing a poor job, down sharply from 40% who said the same in 2021. However, most of the improvement came in “fair” ratings. Just 17% give the Legislature’s performance an either excellent or good rating (up slightly from 14% last year).
    • Although relatively few local officials give the Legislature high ratings, improvements were found among all partisans. Overall, 19% of Republican local leaders say the Legislature is doing an excellent or good job, up slightly from 15% last year, and generally in line with assessments by Independents (14%) and Democrats (20%).

Michigan "off on the wrong track"


Most Michigan local officials say the state has gotten off on the wrong track Spring 2022 MPPS

Governor's job approval


The percent of Michigan local officials rating Governor Whitmer's job approval as good or excellent is unchanged since 2021 Spring 2022 MPPS

Legislature's job approval


The percent of Michigan local officials rating the legislature's performance as good or excellent increased slightly since 2021 Spring 2022 MPPS