Detroit Regional Chamber > Chamber > Heading Into the Mackinac Policy Conference, New Poll Reveals Voter Interest in More Education for Higher Pay, Optimism in the Future, Varying Institutional Trust

Heading Into the Mackinac Policy Conference, New Poll Reveals Voter Interest in More Education for Higher Pay, Optimism in the Future, Varying Institutional Trust

May 25, 2023

DETROIT (May 25, 2023) – Today, approaching the Mackinac Policy Conference, the Detroit Regional Chamber released findings from a new statewide poll of registered Michigan voters, the latest in the Chamber’s ongoing efforts to understand Michiganders’ perceptions of timely economic and societal issues that affect business.

New to this poll are sections on institutional trust, optimism about the future, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. It also builds on critical findings from earlier this year on the perceived importance (or lack thereof) of higher education and continues monitoring voters’ sentiment on the state’s direction, economic conditions, and government leadership.

The Chamber’s polling partner, The Glengariff Group Inc., completed this statewide poll of 600 registered Michigan voters between May 7 and May 10, 2023.

“Whether it be questions on the economy or questions about trust, one common finding is that when the politics of the moment are removed from the equation, voters are both optimistic and can see some common ground,” said Richard Czuba, President of The Glengariff Group.

Sandy Baruah headshot

“This Detroit Regional Chamber statewide poll, coupled with our February poll, highlights key challenges and opportunities faced by policymakers. While Michigan voters are sour on the value of college, they are very open to two years of postsecondary education for themselves. Similarly, voters are strongly optimistic about the state’s and their own futures yet are skeptical of the future technology of electric vehicles. These disparities provide both challenge and opportunity as policymakers chart Michigan’s future.”

– Sandy K. Baruah, President and Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Regional Chamber


Key Data Findings Highlighting Disparities

Optimism About the Future


The majority of Michigan voters are optimistic about the state’s and their own personal future:

65% are optimistic regarding Michigan’s future. 72% are optimistic regarding their own future.


17% of Michigan voters would consider leaving Michigan.


Preparing for the Work Demands of the Future


Michigan voters with a high school diploma are open to two years of additional training (e.g., skilled trade, associate degree) for a better paying job (22% salary increase).

63% of high school graduates are open to two additional years of education or training to get a higher paying job. This number jumps to a remarkable 90% for those aged 18-29 if the education or training was made no-cost.

Additionally, Michigan voters support financial assistance to citizens to earn a skilled trade or associate degree.

80% of Michigan voters support state financial aid for two additional years of education or training after high school.*

These positive indications of interest in postsecondary education by Michiganders are encouraging as our businesses and economy demand higher skills in the workplace. However, these positive signs are contradicted by skepticism around the value of postsecondary education.

Only 8% of Michigan voters consider a four-year college degree to be the minimum level of education needed to be successful in Michigan.*

Only 27% of Michigan voters say a college education is very important to landing a successful job in Michigan.*

36% of Michigan voters consider a high school diploma to be the minimum level of education needed to be successful in Michigan.*

*February 2023 Detroit Regional Chamber Michigan Voter Poll


Are We Embracing Future Technology Like Our Grandparents Did?


As Michigan positions itself to be a leader in the growing electrification future, a surprising percentage of Michigan voters are skeptical of the auto industry’s shift from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electrification (EV).

According to the Chamber’s February 2023 poll, 18% of voters believe automotive companies are moving to EVs because of customer demand or market forces.* The balance believes it is due to pressure from environmentalists and/or government forces. 34% would consider an EV as their next vehicle* – below the rates seen in other areas of the nation and certainly the world.

*February 2023 Detroit Regional Chamber Michigan Voter Poll

Reality Check: EV Demand Forecast

35% U.S. new cars sales by 2035 (KMPG, February 2023)
50% Global new car sales by 2035 (Goldman Sachs, February 2023)

Chamber Perspective


Michigan voters are optimistic about their futures and Michigan’s future. We MUST capitalize on this by focusing on the following:


Leaders must exercise caution and not appear to tell fellow Michiganders what they did wrong, such as not pursuing a postsecondary credential (e.g., a college degree) or dismissing their concerns.


Rather, we must focus on a key reality: Michigan’s prosperous future is directly tied to our prosperous past – technological innovation and advancements in mobility. Arguments that Michigan must change who or what it is to succeed in the 21st century economy are simply misguided.


Similarly, those who make the argument that Michigan must choose between its manufacturing history and a high-tech future are also wrong.


In order to build a future, it is important to capitalize on the competitive advantages we already possess. Michigan has a proud history of manufacturing – it fueled our role on the global stage – and high-tech manufacturing is a critical part of our future.


It will serve as the basis of an ecosystem including entrepreneurship, research, and corporate leadership functions. These functions will thrive together or atrophy separately.


A region’s educational achievement level is directly related to per capita income.



Michigan voters, despite interest, are woefully unaware of tuition assistance programs that can drop the tuition cost of a two-year degree or skilled certificate to little or zero dollars. Only 15% of Michigan voters are familiar with the Michigan Reconnect program.


Michigan voters are skeptical of the transition from ICE to EV. Yet, this transition mirrors that from horses to horseless carriages of 1900 that Michigan led and that revolutionized the world.


Getting Michiganders excited about the new century’s mobility revolution will be critical to Michigan’s economic prosperity. As advanced and strong as our Michigan-based automotive and mobility ecosystem are and positioned to compete in the EV and autonomous vehicle space, we need a citizenry as excited about these new opportunities as our grandparents and great-grandparents were about putting the world on wheels over a hundred years ago.

Breakdown By the Numbers

Education and Talent: Voters Interested in Additional Education, Training if it Leads to Higher Pay


Up to 63% of high school graduates are open to two additional years of education or training to get a higher paying job.

Respondents were asked their highest level of education. For those who said a high school diploma, they were asked if they would be interested in getting a job that paid on average 22% more in salary if it required two additional two years of education or training.

39.8% of respondents with only a high school diploma said they would be interested in a job that paid 22% more, even if it meant more education or training.

For the same group, that number increased to 63.4% when told the additional education or training would be free.

90% of those aged 18-29 with only a high school diploma are open to an additional two years of free education or training.

AgeOpen to Additional Two Years

Chamber Perspective


The Chamber’s polling in February 2023 found that only 27% of Michigan voters think a college education is very important to landing a successful job in Michigan. Interestingly, when posed with the opportunity for higher pay, voters expressed willingness to take on two additional years of education or training. That number nearly doubles when the additional two years were offered for free. This aligns with the last poll’s findings that 80% of Michigan voters support state financial aid for two additional years of education or training after high school. Unfortunately, lack of awareness around existing resources hinders progress, with only 15% of voters having heard of the Michigan Reconnect program and only 24% having heard of the Michigan Achievement Scholarship.


Optimism and Opportunity: More than Half of Michigan Voters Optimistic About State’s Future, But 17% Plan to Leave


65% of Michigan voters are optimistic about the state’s future 10 years from now. 23.3% are pessimistic, while 11.8% are neutral or indifferent.

Democratic voters, voters under 40, and Black voters are the most optimistic about Michigan’s future.

Party AffiliationOptimisticPessimisticIndifferent
Strong Dem81.7%11.8%6.5%
Lean Dem72.7%13.6%13.6%
Lean Rep63.3%24.5%12.2%
Strong Rep54.2%35.2%10.6%

72% of Michiganders are optimistic about their own future in Michigan. 17.3% are pessimistic, while 9.8% are indifferent or neutral.

Voters under 50 were statistically more optimistic about their own futures in Michigan than voters over 50.


Democratic voters were significantly more optimistic about their own futures in Michigan.

Party IDOptimisticPessimisticIndifferent
Strong Dem86.6%8.6%3.8%
Lean Dem81.8%15.9%2.3%
Lean Rep71.4%14.3%14.3%
Strong Rep63.1%24.0%12.8%

76.6% of college-educated voters were optimistic about their futures compared to 69.3% of non-college-educated voters.

75% of Michigan voters think the state will have the same or more opportunities 10 years from now. 15.3% said Michigan would have less opportunity.

Among the 18-29-year-old demographic, 54% said there would be more opportunity in 10 years, and only 5.7% said there would be less.

25% of Republican voters see less opportunity in Michigan in 10 years – the highest level of pessimism among any demographic group.

17% of Michiganders believe they will be living elsewhere in 10 years. 70.1% said they would be living in Michigan, while 12.1% of respondents were not sure.

The 17.3% believing they will be living elsewhere in 10 years cited the following reasons:

26.9%Better weather
12.5%Better jobs and opportunities
10.6%Needed a change
8.7%Find a better economy or cost of living
7.7%Family reasons
6.7%Another location in mind
5.8%Escape Michigan government or taxes

Only 55.2% of 18-29-year-old voters believe they will be living in Michigan in 10 years.


Black voters were the largest demographic group that does not see themselves living in Michigan in 10 years, with 31.9% believing they will be living elsewhere.

Chamber Perspective


With a majority believing opportunity in Michigan will be stable or grow, we have a strong base to grow the state’s population – critical to our economic and political influence. Age also plays a significant role in these findings. While 18-29-year-olds were the most optimistic about Michigan’s future, they are also the most likely to see themselves living somewhere other than Michigan in 10 years. With so much of our economic success being tied to talent attraction and retention, and growing concerns around Michigan’s ongoing population decline, it is incumbent on the business community to find ways to keep this group here. The Chamber’s last poll also found that this under-40 demographic considers businesses’ involvement in social issues an important decision-making factor in their employment. It will benefit employers to be mindful of this group’s needs and preferences.


Trust Index: CEOs, Media, Government Among Least-Trusted Entities


Michigan CEOs rank lowest in trust among respondents, at 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most trustworthy. CEOs also appear among the lowest-ranking categories (below 5.0) across all political affiliations.

Elected officials, media, and both Republican and Democratic voters also ranked below 6.

Respondents were read 13 different types of people in their local community and asked on a 1 to 10 (most trusted) scale how much they trust them.

7.9Librarians at your local library
7.8Your neighbors
7.7Small businesses in your community
7.3Your local bank
7.0Your local law enforcement
7.0Your local clergy
6.9Teachers in your local school
6.2Academic leaders in your community
5.6Republican voters in your community
5.5Elected leaders in your community and county
5.2Democratic voters in your community
5.2Reporters from your local newspapers and television stations
4.5CEOs of Michigan’s businesses

The chart below compares the rankings among Strong Democrats, Independents, and Strong Republicans. It also compares rankings between white and Black respondents.

EntityStrong DemIndependentStrong RepWhiteBlack
Small Businesses7.
Rep Voters3.
Dem Voters7.
Law Enforcement6.
Elected Officials6.
Academic Leaders7.

Among Democratic voters:

Highest-Rated Entities (7.5)Librarians, teachers, small businesses, neighbors, banks
Lowest-Rated Entities (<5.0)Republican voters, CEOs

Among Independent voters:

Highest-Rated Entities (7.5)Librarians, neighbors
Lowest-Rated Entities (<5.0)CEOs, reporters, Democratic voters, elected officials

Among Republican voters:

Highest-Rated Entities (7.5)Neighbors, small businesses, Republican voters, law enforcement, clergy
Lowest-Rated Entities (<5.0)Democratic voters, reporters, CEOs

Chamber Perspective


The lack of trust in CEOs across all demographic groups is troubling. The business community must now reflect on why that trust is suffering and determine how to better relate to and resonate with the communities in which they serve. Beyond the consistent lack of trust in CEOs, these rankings reveal other commonalities across demographics – including political parties. All political affiliations trust their neighbors, but not voters of another political party, who could also be their neighbors. This raises the point that when politics are removed from a situation, there is common ground to be found.


Business and Social Issues: More Than Half of Voters Have Not Heard of DEI Programs; 70% Believe It’s Good for Business


Only 48% of Michigan voters have heard of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs.

51% have not heard of DEI programs.

When asked their opinions of DEI programs:

21.9% Favorable view of DEI
14.8% Negative view of DEI
11%No opinion on DEI

There are sharply different reactions between Republican voters and Democratic or Independent voters to DEI.

Party IDFavorableUnfavorableNo OpinionNever Heard
Strong Dem39.8%3.8%6.5%48.9%
Lean Dem34.1%0.0%6.8%59.1%
Lean Rep10.2%26.5%24.5%36.7%
Strong Rep5.6%30.7%13.4%49.2%

Respondents were read a standardized definition of DEI and asked if they thought it was important or not important.

By a margin of 78.9%-17.5%, voters believe DEI is important.

58.1%Very important
20.8%Somewhat important
5.5%Not very important
12%Not important at all

The chart below compares responses by party affiliation.

Party IDImportantNot Important
Strong Dem95.7%3.8%
Lean Dem100.0%0.0%
Lean Rep69.4%24.5%
Strong Rep58.1%37.5%

70% of voters believe DEI programs are good for business. 17.4% believe DEI programs are bad for business, while 12.5% of voters are unsure.

Party IDGood for BusinessBad for Business
Strong Dem91.9%2.2%
Lean Dem95.5%0.0%
Lean Rep59.2%22.4%
Strong Rep43.0%39.7%

66% of Michigan voters say business has a role in the state’s social issues.

A majority of every demographic group believes businesses have a role in social issues.

74% of Michigan voters say business should be able to speak out on proposed legislation free from government retribution.

The lowest level of support was 65.9% among Strong Republican voters with only 22.9% of Strong Republicans saying businesses do not have the right to speak out free from retribution.

Chamber Perspective


Awareness seems to be a key barrier to the acceptance of DEI programs. Once respondents were read a definition of DEI, more than three-quarters of them acknowledged that it was a good thing. Further, voters from all political parties – despite the slightly split Strong Republican group – consider DEI good for business. Businesses should leverage this input – as well as the fact that 66% of voters believe business has a role in social issues – to improve trust among employees and the communities. Business’ role continues to evolve, and the stances they take on social issues will play an important part in their ability to attract and retain talent and bolster the economy.


Economic Indicators: Voters Continue to Perceive Personal Economic Conditions Positively, Remain Increasingly Pessimistic About Economy in General; Michiganders Consider the State on the Wrong Track for First Time Since May 2022


71% of Michigan voters believe the nation is on the wrong track, the highest percentage since polling began.

The wrong track numbers continue above 60% since December 2021.

SurveyRightWrongNo Opinion
October 202027.4%55.9%16.7%
February 202136.6%40.6%22.9%
May 202135.3%48.2%16.5%
September 202125.5%58.5%16.0%
December 202122.8%62.2%15.0%
May 202216.9%69.0%14.1%
December 202224.2%64.0%11.8%
February 202322.6%64.6%12.8%
May 202317.6%71.4%11.0%

By a margin of 41.9% right track to 46.3% wrong track, Michigan voters have narrowly flipped back to the wrong track for the first time since May 2022.

January 202044.5%26.2%
October 202044.9%41.3%
February 202146.6%38.9%
May 202140.4%45.2%
September 202138.7%47.2%
December 202131.7%52.8%
May 202231.7%50.1%
December 202247.9%42.8%
February 202346.4%42.9%
May 202341.9%46.3%

47% of Michigan voters continue to believe the state’s economy is on the wrong track, consistent with the sentiment reported in February 2023.

Those who believe the economy is on the wrong track were asked why they believe so; inflation continues to dominate the responses.

51.1%Inflation and the cost of goods
7.9%No good jobs/unemployment
7.5%Wages are too low/not paying enough

45% cited inflation as the reason they believe the state’s economy was on the wrong track in December 2022, increasing to 55.7% in February 2023.

Top issue facing Michigan voters shifts from inflation to economy and jobs, with inflation concerns falling from 25.3% in February 2023 to 11.5% in May 2023.

13.6%Economy and jobs
11.5%Inflation/cost of goods
11.3%Crime and gun control
9.0%Roads and infrastructure
6.6%Education funding/education quality
5.3%Biden and the Democrats
5.0%Taxes and government spending
4.8%Abortion and women’s rights

The economy and jobs is the top issue for Strong Republican voters at 16.2%. Gun control and crime is the top issue for Strong Democratic voters at 17.2%.

72% of Michigan voters say they are doing better or the same, up from 67% in February 2023. 26.1% are doing worse, 21.4% are doing better, and 51.0% are doing about the same.

The chart below compares how respondents have answered this question for the past five surveys.

ConditionDec 2021May 2022Dec 2022Feb 2023May 2023

In past surveys, Republican voters have driven the number that said they are doing worse, but that number dropped significantly from February to May. In February, 49.7% of Republicans reported doing worse compared to 38.5% in May.

75% of voters see the economy as weakening or in a recession, compared to 68% in February 2023.

2.5%Economy is seeing growth
21.4%Economy is seeing growth but slow growth
56.6%Economy is weakening but not in a recession
17.9%Economy is in a recession

The shift from February to May is mostly among Democratic voters.

Party IDGrowthSlow GrowthWeakeningRecessionGrowthWeak
Strong Dem6.5%39.2%41.4%10.8%45.7%52.2%
Lean Dem4.5%31.8%61.4%2.3%36.3%63.7%
Lean Rep0.0%12.2%59.2%26.2%12.2%85.4%
Strong Rep0.0%8.4%66.5%25.1%8.4%91.6%

Despite easing inflation, more voters expect inflation to get worse, up to 48% from 41% in February 2023.

When asked if inflation will get better, worse, or stay the same in the next year:

15.8%Inflation will get better
47.7%Inflation will get worse
31.2%Inflation will stay the same

The percentage of voters expecting a recession next year grew from 50% to 56%.

The shift in perceptions is mostly among Democratic and Independent voters.

Party IDGrowing/FebRecession/FebGrowing/MayRecession/May
Strong Dem63.7%24.2%45.7%29.6%
Lean Dem55.9%26.5%43.2%34.1%
Lean Rep17.8%71.1%20.4%65.3%
Strong Rep11.8%78.9%6.1%80.4%

Despite growing inflation and recession concerns, only 17% of employed voters are concerned about losing their jobs, down from 19% in February 2023.

81.7% are not concerned.

Chamber Perspective


Since the Chamber has been tracking these numbers, the perception-reality split on economic issues only continues to grow. These findings demonstrate the widening of voters’ already-disparate perspectives on their personal economic conditions and overall economic concerns. Pessimism about the state of the economy continues to deepen, even expanding into Democratic voters’ perceptions, where the most optimism previously resided.


Adding another layer to this disconnect is the strong optimism in the state’s future reported in other sections of this poll, while the perception of the state’s direction flipped back to the “wrong track” for the first time in over a year.


Whitmer, Legislature Approval Ratings Steady; Biden Approval Stays Low; Voter Motivation Dips Slightly


Whitmer’s job approval remains consistent at 55%.

Michigan voters approve of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s job performance by a margin of 54.9%-37%. The Governor’s job approval has been consistent in the mid-50s since the fall of 2021.

Party IDApproveDisapprove
Strong Dem95.1%1.6%
Lean Dem93.2%4.6%
Lean Rep24.4%61.2%
Strong Rep16.8%76.0%

37% of Michigan voters approve of the State Legislature’s work.

Legislature ApprovalFebruary 2023May 2023
No Opinion40.1%30.7%
Party IDApproveDisapprove
Strong Dem61.8%13.9%
Lean Dem61.4%13.7%
Lean Rep32.6%38.8%
Strong Rep14.0%54.8%

Nearly 60% of Michigan voters disapprove of President Biden’s job performance.

49.2% of voters strongly disapprove of President Biden’s performance. These numbers are statistically unchanged from February 2023.

Party IDApproveDisapprove
Strong Dem79.6%14.0%
Lean Dem52.3%36.4%
Lean Rep6.1%89.8%
Strong Rep1.1%97.2%

2024 motivation to vote sees minor dip, down to 8.9 from 9.1 in February 2023.

Voters were asked on a 1 to 10 scale how motivated they were to vote in next year’s Presidential election. The higher the number, the higher the motivation.

Party IDMotivation
Strong Dem9.1
Lean Dem8.4
Lean Rep8.5
Strong Rep9.4

All party affiliations saw a minor decrease in motivation. Motivation among centrist voters is showing signs of weakening.

The chart below compares these motivation levels to past October election levels.

Party AffiliationOct 12Oct 14Oct 16Oct 18Oct 20Oct 22May 23
Strong Dem8.
Lean Dem7.
Lean Rep8.
Strong Rep8.

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About the Detroit Regional Chamber
Serving the business community for more than 100 years, the Detroit Regional Chamber is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected chambers of commerce in the country. As the voice for business in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region, the Chamber’s mission is carried out by creating a business-friendly climate and providing value for members. The Chamber also executes the statewide automotive and mobility cluster association, MICHauto, and hosts the nationally recognized Mackinac Policy Conference. Additionally, the Chamber leads the most comprehensive education and talent strategy in the state.

About The Glengariff Group, Inc.
The Glengariff Group, Inc. is a full-service research firm providing survey research, focus group research, dial test research, and one-on-one interviewing. The Glengariff Group, Inc. provides more than just research and numbers; it provides recommendations on how best to use your information.