Published: July 2, 2013

Local leaders more trusted than state, federal officials

Contact(s): Charles Ballard Department of Economics office: (517) 353-2961 ballard@msu.edu, Cynthia Kyle IPPSR office: (517) 353-1731 kylec@msu.edu, Andy Henion Media Communications office: (517) 355-3294 cell: (517) 281-6949 Andy.Henion@cabs.msu.edu

Michigan residents are more trusting of their local government than they are of either state or federal government, according to new results from Michigan State University’s State of the State Survey.

In the latest survey, 39 percent of adults said they can trust their local government nearly always or most of the time. Only 19 percent of those responding to the survey said they can trust state government nearly always or most of the time, and just 15 percent said they can trust the federal government nearly always or most of the time.

The latest results resonate as the country readies to celebrate the July 4 holiday and as new questions surface about privacy and access to personal information, said Charles Ballard, MSU professor of economics and State of the State Survey director.

“Michigan’s citizens are somewhat wary of government at all levels, but they tend to put more trust in their local government than either the state or federal government,” Ballard said.

The survey, conducted earlier this year, included interviews with 1,013 Michigan adults. It has a margin of error of about 3.1 percent.

Ballard said the results “are the continuation of a trend we have seen for most of the 19 years we have been tracking trust in government.”

Trust in local government stayed close to the average, he explained. Trust in state government has been “fairly stable during the last three years, but the long-term trend remains decidedly negative.”

And trust in federal government “surged upward immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, but has worsened substantially since then.”

Democrats are relatively more trusting of the federal government led by Democratic President Barack Obama. Republicans are more trusting of the state government headed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.

The State of the State Survey is a quarterly telephone survey of Michigan adults conducted by the Office for Survey Research in MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. IPPSR specializes in public policy, leadership training and survey research in MSU’s College of Social Science.

See IPPSR’s complete news release on the survey here.

“Michigan’s citizens are somewhat wary of government at all levels, but they tend to put more trust in their local government than either the state or federal government,” said Charles Ballard, Michigan State University professor of economics and State of the State Survey director.

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