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New Statewide Poll Reveals Perceptions on Inflation, Education, Business’ Role in Society, Evolving Voter Motivations, and More

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DETROIT (May 31, 2022) – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber released findings from its latest statewide poll of registered Michigan voters as the Chamber’s 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway. The data reveals trends in perception of inflation, the state’s education system, business’ role in social issues, and key voter motivations during a critical election year.

“This poll is enlightening as we enter the 2022 mid-term elections and will shape the discussions at the Mackinac Policy Conference, which will focus on the changing role of business in polarizing times,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Voters continued to be energized to vote, with the potential of changes to Roe v. Wade fueling Democratic turnout. Consistent with the Chamber’s recent polling work with The Glengariff Group, we continue to see a disconnect between voters’ perceptions of the overall economy, which is highly negative driven by inflation concerns, but strong confidence in their own economic situation, including very low levels of job insecurity. Also of interest is the stark difference in how Democrats and Republicans (especially Strong Republicans) view issues – including issues that are seemingly non-partisan such as the quality of Michigan schools and the expected length of this inflationary period.”

The Chamber’s polling partner, The Glengariff Group Inc., completed this statewide poll of 600 registered Michigan voters between May 9-13, 2022.

“Voter motivation is looking similar to what we saw in 2018 and 2020 with high levels of motivation among Michigan voters. The threat of overturning Roe v. Wade has provided a jolt of motivation to Democratic voters while Republican voters remain highly motivated by their inflation concerns,” said Richard Czuba, president of The Glengariff Group, Inc. “A key to 2022 will be how these two different issues intersect among Independent voters.”

The following outlines the poll’s main themes:


BIPARTISAN ECONOMIC CONCERNS CENTER AROUND INFLATION

72.8% Say the Economy is on the Wrong Track Due to Inflation
By a margin of 19.1%-72.8%, voters believe the economy is on the wrong track. Every
demographic group – including Strong Democratic voters – believes the economy is on the
wrong track.

When voters were asked in an open-ended question what the most important issue was facing Michigan, inflation drives the top concern – by a long shot. But the economic concern is inflation, not jobs. Second on the list is roads and infrastructure. Abortion makes a first-time showing at number three, coming in at 10.9% as the biggest concern among voters.

  • 33% – Economy/inflation
  • 13.4% – Roads/infrastructure
  • 10.9% – Roe v. Wade/abortion
  • 8.3% – Government leadership

Among the 72.8% of voters who said the economy was on the wrong track, 44% specifically cited inflation and cost of goods, 9.8% cited gas prices, and only 2.3% of these voters cited a lack of jobs.

Despite Inflation Concerns, Voters Report Economic Stability
Voters were asked if they personally were doing better, worse, or about the same economically as in the past.

  • 28% say they are doing worse.
  • 22.7% say they are doing better.
  • 48.4% say they are doing about the same.

These numbers are nominally unchanged from December 2021.

Condition December 2021 May 2022 Difference
Worse 24.3% 28.0% +3/7%
Better 25.5% 48.0% -2.8%
About the Same 48.0% 48.0% No Difference

In December 2021, 73.5% of voters said they were economically doing the same or better as the past. In May 2022, 70.7% of voters say they are economically doing the same or better than the past.

For the 28% that say they are doing worse, they specifically cite inflation as the reason.
76.9% of those saying they are doing worse specifically cited increased costs as the reason.
Only 3.6% of those that say they are doing worse cite a lack of jobs or work.

Generational Influences Evident in Inflation Concerns

54.7% of voters believe inflation will continue for years, while 34% believe it will begin to
slow down. Only Strong Democratic voters believe inflation will begin to slow down.

Party Affiliation Continue for Years Begin to Slow Down
Strong Democratic 32.9% 55.1%
Lean Democratic 49.1% 37.7%
Independent 56.4% 30.1%
Lean Republican 78.6% 19.0%
Strong Republican 71.5% 19.0%

Voters under 50 are far more likely to believe inflation will last years compared to voters over 50.

Age Continue for Years Begin to Slow Down
18-29 60.4% 30.2%
30-39 60.2% 31.0%
40-49 63.6% 26.4%
50-64 49.2% 40.9%
65+ 46.8% 36.9%
Chamber Perspective: Not surprisingly, those old enough to remember the inflation of the 1970s and 1980s tend to view rising prices as a temporary phenomenon compared to those who have never experienced meaningful inflation. Two interesting findings in this data include the stark difference between Democrats and Republicans on their views regarding the duration of inflation and that a solid majority of voters believe this inflationary period will be prolonged, which may impact decisions by the Federal Reserve Bank. The FED looks at consumer expectations for long-term inflation as part of their policy development process, and – to date – consumers’ inflationary expectations have been more short-term.

DESPITE SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC CONCERNS, VOTERS EXPERIENCING LOW JOB INSECURITY, ‘GREAT RESHUFFLING’ IN THE JOB MARKET

Number of Voters Reporting Concerns About Losing Their Jobs Down Since December 2021
Among voters who currently hold jobs, 13.3% are concerned about losing their jobs while 85.3% said they are not concerned about losing their jobs. This number is down from 16.1% in December 2021. Only 3.5% of voters are very concerned about losing their job.

‘Great Reshuffling’ Among Young Professionals is the Untold Business Story of COVID-19
Voters were asked about their employment status prior to COVID-19 hitting. They were then asked about their employment status today.

  • 60.5% of those employed prior to COVID-19 are still in the same job.
  • 26.2% of those employed prior to COVID-19 are in a different job.
  • 5.4% of those employed prior to COVID-19 have retired or moved to disability.
  • 4.3% of those employed prior to COVID-19 are not working or looking for work right now.
  • 3.5% of those employed prior to COVID-19 are currently looking for work.

Breaking these changes down by demographics and education level:

  • 48.8% of those aged 18-29 and 31% of those aged 30-39 are in a new job since COVID-19.
  • 50% of African American workers are in a new job.
  • 32.1% of those without a college degree are in a new job compared to only 19.4% of those with a college degree.
  • 38.3% of those aged over 65 that worked prior to COVID-19 are now retired.
  • 11.2% of those aged 50-64 that worked prior to COVID-19 are now retired, and another 7.1% have simply chosen not to work right now. 18.3% of those aged 50-64 have left the work force.
  • 12% of women have left the workforce for retirement or to not work right now, compared to only 7.7% of men.
  • 11.2% of white workers have either chosen to retire or leave the workforce compared to only 3.8% of African American workers.
Chamber Perspective: Of the many ways the economic shock of the pandemic period differs from the Great Recession, the health of today’s job market is one of the most notable. To have over a quarter of the workforce in different jobs since the pandemic shows the exceptional strength of the job market and the unprecedented opportunity for Michiganders to upgrade their jobs. The combination of the increase in retirements driven by the pandemic, continued strong consumer demand for goods and services, and the general shortage of high-skilled talent most in-demand by Michigan employers are the key factors in the ongoing labor shortage.

COVID-19 CHANGED OFFICE WORK, BUT OVERWHELMING MAJORITY FIND THE OFFICE SAFE

For workers that prior to COVID-19 primarily worked in an office setting, just over half of those
workers have returned full time to the office.

  • 55.8% said they are mostly back in the office.
  • 25.2% said they were working in an office/home hybrid setting.
  • 17.8% said they were working mostly from home.

By a margin of 87.1%-8.6%, these office workers said they felt safe working in an office setting again.

Chamber Perspective: Despite increasing rates through spring 2022, most voters seem less concerned about COVID-19 and have pared down or fully abandoned health and safety precautions like mask wearing. Although the ways we work have changed throughout the pandemic, many businesses are making their way back into traditional office settings – and feeling comfortable doing so.

VOTER MOTIVATION INCREASES AMONG DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS REMAIN CONCERNED WITH ELECTION INTEGRITY

Voter Motivation Remains Strong Approaching November 2022
Voter motivation remains strong at 9.0 on a 10.0-point scale – consistent with December 2021 levels.

Strong Democratic motivation has increased to 9.5 from 9.3 in December 2021, while Strong Republican motivation has seen a slight decline from 9.4 to 9.2.

The chart below compares motivation to vote by party affiliation dating back 10 years. Base voters on both sides are motivated at levels comparable to the 2018 and 2020 elections. We continue to see ‘sagging’ in motivation numbers among Independent voters.

Party Affiliation Oct 12 Oct 14 Oct 16 Oct 18 Jan 20 Dec 21 May 22
Strong Democratic 8.5 7.0 6.7 9.6 9.7 9.3 9.5
Lean Democratic 7.4 6.4 4.7 9.5 9.6 8.7 8.7
Independent 6.6 5.9 5.6 8.9 9.1 8.8 8.4
Lean Republican 8.3 6.2 6.2 9.2 9.3 8.9 9.2
Strong Republican 8.4 6.9 6.5 9.5 9.6 9.4 9.2

Changes to Roe v. Wade Driving Democratic Motivation
Voters were asked if overturning Roe v. Wade made them more or less motivated to vote in November – or whether it had no influence on their motivation.

  • 38.2% would be more motivated to vote – with 29.9% much more motivated.
  • 1.7% would be less motivated to vote.
  • 58.4% said Roe v. Wade would not influence their motivation to vote.

61.6% of Democratic women would be more motivated to vote as a result of overturning Roe v. Wade, with 50.3% of Democratic women sharing they would be much more motivated to vote.

Majorities Believe State and Local Election Counts Accurate Though Strong Republican Voters Remain Skeptical

By a margin of 54.9%-31.3%, Michigan voters believe state elections accurately count the vote and declare the correct winner. But those suspicious of an accurate statewide count are largely Republican voters.

State Count

Party Affiliation Accurate Not Accurate
Strong Democratic 83.8% 7.8%
Lean Democratic 77.4% 15.1%
Independent 50.9% 33.1%
Lean Republican 40.5% 38.1%
Strong Republican 23.5% 57.0%

But by a margin of 72.5%-14.3%, Michigan voters believe their local community election counts the vote accurately and declares the correct winner – including majorities of Republican voters.

Local Count

Party Affiliation Accurate Not Accurate
Strong Democratic 86.8% 3.6%
Lean Democratic 81.1% 11.3%
Independent 67.5% 18.4%
Lean Republican 73.8% 14.3%
Strong Republican 60.1% 22.8%

When asked how confident voters were that the 2022 election would be accurately counted and the winners correctly declared, 71.8% of voters were confident in the accuracy of the 2022 votes compared to 21.2% that were not confident.

A majority of Strong Republican voters, 52.5%, are confident the correct winners will be declared in 2022, with 38% not confident.

Party Affiliation Confident Not Confident
Strong Democratic 89.3% 6%
Lean Democratic 88.6% 5.2%
Independent 68.7% 25.8%
Lean Republican 71.4% 19.1%
Strong Republican 52.5% 38%
Chamber Perspective: High rates of voter motivation coming into the November 2022 election cycle is noteworthy, especially compared to the 2016 election. In 2016, according to Czuba, motivation was at an all-time low and has continued to increase significantly since. In 2016, motivation among Strong Democrats was 6.7 and for Strong Republicans was 6.5, compared to 2022’s rates of 9.5 and 9.2, respectively. With particularly hot policies related to the economy, abortion rights, and gun laws, for instance, voters are more engaged and committed to making their voices heard. The data also shows concerns over election validity are more pronounced in somebody else’s community – not their own. This mirrors the dynamic of satisfaction with a local member of Congress but dissatisfaction with Congress overall. The Chamber continues to be a leader in the business community supporting access to the ballot and equitable voting rights that uphold the security and integrity of elections.

PERCEPTION OF MICHIGAN SCHOOLS’ PERFORMANCE MAY NOT MIRROR REALITY

Voters were asked if they thought Michigan public schools perform better, worse, or the same as public schools in other states.

  • 15.4% – Better (4.3% much better/11.1% little better)
  • 38.8% – Same
  • 21.6% – Worse (13.3% little worse/8.3% much worse)

24% of Michigan voters simply could not offer an assessment of the performance of Michigan public schools.

Perceptions of Education Compared to Other States Varied by Voter Location
Responses varied by the type of town in which the voter lives. In urban and small town
areas, voters are more critical than those in suburban and rural areas.

Type of Town Better Same Worse Don’t Know
Urban 14.3% 33.3% 27.7% 24.6%
Suburban 14.3% 42.4% 18.3% 25.1%
Small Town 13.8% 35.3% 28.4% 22.4%
Rural 19.6% 42.5% 15.7% 21.6%

When asked about their local schools, voters were more generous in their assessment.

  • 25.5% said their local schools were better than other schools.
  • 35.8% said their local schools were about the same as other schools.
  • 19.1% said their local schools were worse than other schools.
  • 17.6% could not offer an opinion.

Breaking these responses down further by demographics:

  • White voters were twice as likely to grade their local school better than African American voters.
Race Better Same Worse Don’t Know
African American 14% 40.7% 30.3% 15.1%
White 30.1% 35.5% 16.7% 17.6%
  • Voters without children were the most generous with their assessment of their local schools.
Children Better Same Worse Don’t Know
Preschool Children 20.8% 29.2% 24.6% 25.0%
K-12 Aged Children 25.3% 38.4% 22.7% 13.7%
No Children 28.9% 35.2% 17.0% 18.9%

Perceptions of Local Public Schools Also Varied Along Party Lines
While Republican voters were the most critical of Michigan public schools, they were the most generous toward their local public schools.

Republican Voters Better Same Worse Don’t Know
Michigan Schools 7.6% 39.2% 24.7% 27.8%
Local Public Schools 26.0% 36.1% 15.2% 22.8%

Democratic voters, on the other hand, were harsher toward their local public schools.

Democratic Voters Better Same Worse Don’t Know
Michigan Schools 21.6% 38.8% 17.4% 22.2%
Local Public Schools 31.2% 32.1% 32.1% 9.4%
Chamber Perspective: The low number of voters who believe Michigan schools are better than those in other states is not surprising. However, that a plurality believe Michigan schools are about the same as other states does not comport with reality. According to the Chamber’s 2022 State of Education report issued April 6, Michigan schools lag our national competitors. Education and talent issues are a primary focus of the Chamber, which has the most robust nonprofit education and talent program portfolio in the state.

VOTERS LARGELY SUPPORT BUSINESS ENGAGEMENT IN PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES

When asked if they support or oppose Michigan business leaders taking public positions on
major policy issues, voters were mixed with 47.4% in support and 30.9% in opposition. 21.6% of
voters said it depends.

On this question, at least a plurality of each party affiliation supports business leaders taking
public positions, except among Strong Republican voters who oppose Michigan business
leaders speaking out by a margin of 32.3%-43.1%.

Party Affiliation Support Oppose
Strong Democratic 53.9% 26.4%
Lean Democratic 60.4% 22.6%
Independent 48.5% 30.1%
Lean Republican 57.2% 19.1%
Strong Republican 32.3% 43.1%

By a margin of 50.4%-33.7%, Michigan voters oppose legislators taking adverse actions against
a company that speaks out against a state law as Florida did to Disney.

There are sharp differences by party affiliation on this question with Strong Republican voters
supporting government action against a company that speaks out on policy. Democrats are
strongly opposed with Independents and Leaning Republicans more mixed on the issue.

Party Affiliation Support Oppose
Strong Democratic 10.2% 81.5%
Lean Democratic 15% 73.5%
Independent 36.7% 42.9%
Lean Republican 36.1% 40.5%
Strong Republican 61.4% 21.7%
Chamber Perspective: Business leaders are feeling more responsibility, including from their employees, to speak up and participate in social and political issues. The issues that have risen to the surface the past few years are tied to the fundamental building blocks of American society and stability, which is critically important for business. The broad support for businesses being more vocal and active in social and political issues reflects the loss of confidence in other institutions such as media and government. Business leaders are increasingly filling the void. The 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference will explore business’ function and responsibility in these spaces and help leaders better understand where, how, and when to engage.

BIDEN JOB APPROVAL SEES SLIGHT DECLINE FROM DECEMBER 2021, WHITMER REMAINS STEADY

Biden Job Approval Declines to 36.2%
Joe Biden’s job approval is 36.2% approve to 54.7% disapprove. 8.8% of voters have no
opinion of Joe Biden’s performance. These numbers are a slight decline from December 2021.
Only 14.6% of voters strongly approve of Biden’s performance while 45.9% strongly
disapprove of his performance.

The chart below compares December 2021 to May 2022 by party affiliation. The number highlights the growing dissatisfaction with President Biden’s performance among Independent voters.

December 2021 May 2022
Party Affiliation Approve Disapprove Approve Disapprove
Strong Democratic 82.8% 14.1% 81.4% 10.2%
Lean Democratic 60% 24.4% 64.2% 24.5%
Independent 32.8% 52.6% 18.4% 63.2%
Lean Republican 6% 83.6% 9.5% 85.8%
Strong Republican 7.5% 91.1% 4.4% 92.7%

Gov. Whitmer’s Approval Numbers Remain Steady, Disapproval Shows Minor Decline
By a margin of 48.9% approve to 40.8% disapprove, Michigan voters approve of Gov. Gretchen
Whitmer’s performance. 10.3% of voters have no opinion of her performance. Gov. Whitmer’s
approval numbers remain stable and consistent, with a slight drop in her disapproval numbers.

Her approval numbers remain ‘above water’ by 8.1% – but still fail to break the 50% mark.

Whitmer Job Approval Approval Disapprove
January 2020 43.3% 35.9%
September 2020 58.7% 38.3%
October 2020 59.1% 37.2%
February 2021 57.8% 38.1%
May 2021 50% 43.8%
September 2021 47.9% 46.3%
December 2021 48.3% 43.8%
May 2022 48.9% 40.8%

The chart below looks at the Governor’s job approval by party affiliation. While Joe Biden’s job
approval is 18.4%-63.2% among Independent voters, Gov. Whitmer’s job approval with
Independent voters is 41.7%-40.5%.

Of particular note, Gov. Whitmer has 28.5% job approval among Leaning Republican voters. Among Leaning Republican men, Whitmer stands at 23.3%-70.0%, but among Leaning Republican women, she stands at 41.7%-58.3%.

Party Affiliation Approve Disapprove
Strong Democratic 91.6% 1.2%
Lean Democratic 77.3% 11.3%
Independent 41.7% 40.5%
Lean Republican 28.5% 66.6%
Strong Republican 7.6% 85.4%

Women approve of Gov. Whitmer by a margin of 53.6%-35.5%. Men are split at 44.0%-46.4%.

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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.