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June 18, 2018

State of the State Survey: Michigan still hot on economy, lukewarm on leaders

Michigan residents are hot for their state’s strong economy but only tepid toward top elected leaders, finds Michigan State University’s latest State of the State Survey.

“Michigan’s consumer confidence so far this year is just behind the all-time highs set in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” said Charles Ballard, MSU economist and SOSS director. “It’s not 1999 and it’s not gangbusters, but it’s pretty good. It’s still an optimistic outlook.”

Of those taking part in the latest survey, more than half – 60.9 percent – rated their financial circumstances as good or excellent.

“These are the second-best ratings since 2001,” Ballard said. “The upward trend is solidly confirmed.”

Almost half of respondents said they felt better off now than they did one year ago, and nearly 65 percent predicted that their 2019 will be financially better than 2018, Ballard said.

The most optimistic survey rating came in Fall 1999 when 72.3 percent of those answering SOSS forecast a better year ahead.

In evaluating their elected leaders, Michigan adults over the age of 18 gave slightly higher marks to President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Snyder than in the previous survey.

“The operative phrase is that ratings ‘inched up.’ The increases were within the margin of error, meaning there was little difference between this spring’s ratings and previous ones this past winter,” Ballard said.

Michigan residents’ recent assessments were lower than those received by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama but higher than President George W. Bush from his last two years in office.

“President Trump’s favorable ratings continue to edge upward,” Ballard said. According to the survey, 31.5 percent awarded Trump an “excellent” or “good” grade as opposed to 28 and 29.2 percent favorable ratings in the two previous surveys. In contrast, 21.7 percent of Michigan residents gave Trump a “fair” rating and 46.8 percent gave him a “poor” review.

Snyder’s ratings were up as well, with 30 percent of the survey’s respondents giving him an “excellent” or “good” review. It was the first time since 2015 that the governor’s favorable ratings have topped 30 percent.

“Snyder’s ratings have been mostly ‘fair’ since he came to office,” Ballard said.

In this survey, 37.4 percent of those assessing his performance gave him a “fair” rating. Another 31.8 percent gave him a “poor” grade.

Listen to the latest State of the State podcast featuring Ballard and Institute for Public Policy and Social Research colleagues, Matt Grossmann and Arnold Weinfeld.

State of the State Survey is hosted by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research in MSU’s College of Social Science. Students, faculty and researchers on and off campus are invited to submit questions.

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