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Feb. 4, 2020

Michigan residents feel upbeat on economy, less so on Trump

According to the latest State of the State Survey, Michiganders are more positive about their personal finances than they’ve been in nearly two decades, but their feelings about President Donald Trump aren’t quite as confident.

The latest SOSS – conducted by Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, or IPPSR – found that by some measures, feelings about finances are the highest they’ve been in the survey’s history: those interviewed said they consider themselves better off financially than a year ago, comfortable with their current household finances and confident they’ll be better off next year as well.

Sixty-three percent of the people surveyed believe they’ll be financially better off in 2020, below the state’s 70.5% peak of optimism in 2001, before the state entered a slide to recession. Just 18% of participants called their finances worse than a year ago, the lowest reading since 1999, Ballard said.

Michigan adults also cooled slightly toward President Donald Trump as the year ended and gave Gov. Gretchen Whitmer her opening SOSS marks of “fair.”

State of the State Director Charles Ballard, professor of economics at MSU, said that while a positive economic outlook typically bodes well for an incumbent president, Trump’s ratings “are not all that great.”

“Almost exactly half gave him a rating of poor,” Ballard said.

As Trump seeks re-election in 2020, less than a third of Michigan’s residents gave Trump a combined rating of “good” or “excellent,” down from almost 34% just about a year ago; 18.3% gave the president, a Republican, a “fair” rating.

Michigan residents responding to the SOSS also weighed in on their trust in state, local and federal government, all of which dipped slightly.

Trust in local government is higher now than in most of the century, Ballard said: nearly 44% of those responding said they could trust local government “most of the time.” In this survey, 21% said they could trust state government most of the time and nearly half said some of the time.

Ballard said that those who say they seldom or never trust their federal government outnumber those who indicate they trust federal government nearly all or most of the time by a three-to-one margin.

“Trust in the federal government is far below the all-time high, which came shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001,” Ballard said.

Trump stands at 15.6% “excellent” compared to Whitmer’s 5.7% but his “poor” marks are more than three times Whitmer’s 14.9% assessment.

“Trump wins more extreme responses than the first-term governor. He has a higher percentage of excellent ratings, but also a higher percentage of poor grades,” Ballard said. “The differences are even starker when you look at attitudes by race, sex and party affiliation.”

Women favor Whitmer over Trump. Among Black Michigan residents, 34.3% give Whitmer “good” or “excellent” performance marks while 3.2% gave Trump favorable marks.

Trump wins high marks from nearly three-quarters of Republicans responding to the survey. More than half of Democrats responding – 56.8% – gave Whitmer favorable marks. Independents rated the politicians similarly: just under 35% of Independents ranked Whitmer highly and 33.8% of Independents ranked Trump highly.

SOSS results were outlined on IPPSR’s latest State of the State podcast.

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