News Story

Polling the State of the State's Voters

Trust in state government among Michigan residents and their views of Gov. Jennifer Granholm are at all-time lows, according to a poll released on Monday.

The poll found 43.7 percent of those surveyed said Granholm was doing a "poor" job; 35.5 percent rated her as "fair"; 17.4 percent said "good"; and 3.4 percent said "excellent."

Only 20.8 percent of those surveyed rated Granholm as "excellent" or "good." That's the governor's lowest rating since she took office. The highest was 57.2 percent when Granholm first took office in 2003.

Meanwhile, 37.0 percent of those polled said they seldom or never trust the state government. The previous high was 27.8 percent in 2008.

The poll is done every quarter by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University. It involved 1,969 interviews from February through April. The poll was first conducted in 1995.

Leon Drolet, chairman of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance, said he didn't understand how 20 percent of those polled could think Granholm was doing a good job.

"Anybody who doesn't work directly for her should recognize she's done a terrible job," Drolet said. "For some folks, they might feel like (President) Obama needs a longer time for his policies to play out. For Granholm, we've seen the outcome of her policy proposals. I can't understand 20 percent of the people think it has been good."

Michael LaFaive, the director of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy's Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, called the poll results inspiring.

"The public's skepticism toward the political class is inspiring," LaFaive wrote in an e-mail. "Maybe voters have figured out that personalities matter less than policy. My gut tells me that voters are tired of Lansing politicians campaigning in one mold and voting in another. Establishment candidates are going to feel the sting of voters' wrath this summer and fall. That's probably why you see so many candidates who have long been part of the problem campaigning as if they are part of the solution."

A Granholm spokeswoman wrote that polls weren't a priority.

"The Governor is not focused on polls," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd wrote in an e-mail. "She's focused on transforming the economy and creating jobs. She is focused on going anywhere, doing anything to bring jobs to the state of Michigan."

President Obama also took a hit in the poll. The survey found 27.7 percent said they thought he was doing a "poor" job; 35.4 percent said "fair"; 27.2 percent said the president was doing a "good" job; and 9.7 percent said "excellent."

The president's appeal is slipping. In winter 2009, 70.7 percent rated him as "excellent" or "good." That fell to 36.9 percent in winter 2010.

Although Granholm and Obama didn't fare too well, their approval ratings weren't the lowest ever.

Charles Ballard, an MSU professor in the Department of Economics, said President George W. Bush had the lowest rating in the fall of 2008. That's when only 13.7 percent of those polled said that Bush had done an "excellent" or "good" job.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.