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April 15, 2011

Michiganders give Snyder average grade; consumer confidence up

EAST LANSING, Mich. — In his first report card as governor, Rick Snyder received an average grade from Michigan residents, who also said they’re feeling better about the economy, according to Michigan State University’s latest State of the State Survey.

Snyder’s approval rating of 44.5 percent is about on par with typical gubernatorial ratings in Michigan. But the governor’s popularity took a hit after he released a state budget proposal calling for large cuts to many services such as education and revenue sharing for cities, along with taxation of retirement income.

“In interviews conducted before the governor issued his budget proposal, his favorable ratings stood at 54 percent, but those ratings fell to 39 percent after the proposal,” said Charles Ballard, director of the quarterly survey and economics professor at MSU.

“Faced with a budget deficit of $1.8 billion, Gov. Snyder had to propose spending cuts, tax increases or a combination of both. When he released his budget on Feb. 17, some of the specifics met with vocal opposition and this is reflected in the decline of his approval ratings.”

Consumer confidence continued to improve, albeit slowly. About 49 percent of residents rated their financial situation as either good or excellent – the best mark in nearly four years.

In addition, 60 percent of residents said they believe they will be better off a year from now – the highest percentage in about seven years.

The results for consumer confidence have improved steadily over the past several surveys. Ballard said that’s not surprising given the fact that Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen for 18 months in a row.

The survey, conducted by MSU’s Institute of Public Policy and Social Research, has monitored the public mood on important issues facing Michigan and the state’s major regions since 1994. The winter-spring telephone survey of 979 residents has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Other details of the survey:

  • Snyder’s approval rating of 44.5 percent is lower than Jennifer Granholm’s initial grade of 58.1 percent, in winter 2003, but not out of line with typical approval ratings. John Engler’s ratings generally hovered in the 40s and 50s, and Granholm’s dropped steadily after that initial mark – all the way down to 18 percent in her final months as governor.
  • Snyder had a better approval rating among blacks (49.8 percent) than whites (43.7 percent).
  • Snyder and President Barack Obama had exactly the same approval rating – 44.5 percent – although they drew support from different areas. Snyder scored highest in the Grand Rapids area and the Upper Peninsula, while Obama’s support was strongest in Metro Detroit and the Lansing area.
  • Obama’s approval ratings appear to have stabilized after falling from an initial grade of 70.7 percent in winter 2009 to a low of 32.7 percent in fall 2010. Obama’s latest approval ratings are the highest since summer 2009.


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.