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Detroit Regional Chamber Statewide Policy Survey | What Matters Most to Michigan Voters?

From tariffs and immigration to climate change and education, Michigan voters are in consensus over most national issues, according to a statewide survey by the Detroit Regional Chamber. Ahead of the second of 12 Democratic presidential primary debates taking place in Detroit July 30 to July 31st, results from the survey are now live.


  • 51.2% of Michigan voters believe the nation is on the wrong track (8.2% no response).
  • However, 62% believe the nation’s economy is on the right track (9.3% no response).
  • When asked if over the past three years their household had improved, been hurt or remained the same, 63% did not see an improvement in their financial situation in the past three years.
  • Fewer than one in five voters report benefits from the federal tax reform legislation passed in 2017.
  • When asked in an open-ended question, “What is the most important issue facing our nation right now?” the top four responses were: border security/immigration, the President, economy and jobs, and health care costs and availability.

Key Issues

Tariffs: A majority of Michigan voters indicated tariffs are hurting automotive companies, farmers, and consumers.

  • 40.8% of Michigan voters believe tariffs on cars made in foreign countries hurt Michigan’s automotive industry (14.7% no effect, 12.2% no response).
  • 47.3% believe tariffs on Chinese imports hurt Michigan farmers (14.2% no effect, 16.3% no response).
  • 47% believe tariffs on foreign-made products hurt consumers like themselves (21.7% no effect, 7.8% no response).


Immigration: A clear majority of Michigan voters believe immigrants are good for the state economy, oppose a wall but support non-wall security; they don’t want children separated from families, and they would to see a path to citizenship for undocumented adults without criminal record.

  • 56.5% of Michigan voters believe immigrants are good for Michigan’s economy (17.5% no effect, 8.8% no response).
  • 57.3% oppose increased federal funding to build a border wall between Mexico and the U.S. (2.7% neither support/nor oppose, 0.5% no answer).
  • 81.7% strongly support increased federal funding for enhanced security at the border, airports, and ports of entry if it does not include funding for a wall between Mexico and the U.S. (3% neither support/nor oppose, 1.3% no answer)
  • 77.3% oppose the separation of children from immigrant parents who have come across the border either illegally or to ask for asylum (4.5% neither support/nor oppose, 2.3% no answer); while 69% strongly oppose the policy to separate children from their parents.
  • When presented with three scenarios on how to address adult immigrants who had come to the United States illegally and then asked which route they would support, Michigan voters responded with the following:
    • 54.5% said undocumented adults who have not committed any major crimes should be given a pathway to citizenship in the U.S.
    • 26.2% said that any undocumented adults who came to the U.S. illegally should be deported no matter how long they have been in the country.
    • 14.2% said that all undocumented adults should be given a pathway to citizenship.
    • 5.2% did not respond.


Climate Change: By a nearly 2-1 margin, Michigan voters say climate change is a threat to Michigan and the Great Lakes.

  • 60.8% of Michigan voters believe that climate change is a threat to Michigan’s economy (5.3% no response).
  • 65.2% believe that climate change is a threat to the Great Lakes (4.3% no response).


Fixing the Soo Locks: An overwhelming majority of Michigan voters support fixing the Soo Locks.

  • 78.3% of Michigan voters say that funding and fixing the Sault Ste. Marie Locks is urgent or very important, and 15.3% said it is important but there are other priorities (4.3% no response).

Education: A strong majority of Michigan voters believe it is important to receive a postsecondary education or certificate, and a majority supports taxpayer-funded, “free” college tuition.

  • 93.7% of Michigan voters believe it is important to attain more than a high school education.
  • 56.8% support taxpayer-funded, “free” college tuition.


Health Care: While there is a consensus on the majority of issues, Michigan voters are divided on health care.

  • 51.5% of Michigan voters oppose the elimination of private insurance in favor of a “Medicare for All” plan (9% neither support/nor oppose, 2.8% no response).
  • 44% are statistically split on repealing the Affordable Care Act (8.3% neither support/nor oppose, 5.5% no response). 34.3% strongly support its repeal while 34.5% strongly oppose its repeal.



Civility: When asked if Americans have been more or less civil toward one another over the past five years, or see no change in civility today, Michigan voters strongly agree there is less civility, and they widely blame the President. Since 2017, the Chamber has led a call to restore civility in public discourse. Given civility is a signature priority for the Chamber, Michigan voters were asked their opinion on the nation’s current state.

  • 69.2% of Michigan voters believe Americans have become less civil towards each other over the past five years (18% no change, 1.3% no response). When asked who specifically is to blame for the decline in civility in an open-ended question, 40.2% answered President Trump.

Perception of Equality of Opportunity by Race and Party: Michigan voters were
asked if people of color in our nation were treated fairly by the criminal justice system, were provided equal quality of health care, equal quality of education, and equal access to mortgages and loans.

  • 56.8% said the criminal justice system did not people of color fairly.
  • 40.3% said people of color have fair access to quality health care.
  • 50.7% said people of color do not have fair access to quality education.
  • 41.2% said people of color do not have fair access to mortgages and loans.

Black voters widely believe people of color are treated unfairly on every marker. White voters, however, are relatively split in every category. 

Category Blacks Fairly Blacks Unfairly Whites Fairly Whites Unfairly
Criminal Justice 3.4% 94.3% 40.1% 49.1%
Health Care 17.2% 73.6% 43.4% 32.8%
Education 10.3% 88.5% 47.6% 43.2%
Mortgages/Loans 10.3% 86.2% 44.3% 32.6%

Voters’ Source for Political News Matters: On many issues the group of Michigan voters not part of a consensus opinion showed alignment in the media outlet they identified as their source for political news. Three issues that highlight this alignment:

1. Climate Change: Is climate change a threat to the Great Lakes?

Party Affiliation Threat Not a Threat
Strong Dem 92.6% 4.2%
Lean Dem 84.8% 4.3%
Independent 65.6% 30.5%
Lean GOP 37.5% 55.4%
Strong GOP 32.1% 64.3%
Primary Source of
Political News
Threat Not a Threat
Local TV News 72.8% 23.7%
Fox News 23.9% 70.1%
CNN/MSNBC 79.2% 15.6%
Network News 79.2% 11.3%
Radio 75.0% 25.0%
Newspaper 61.9% 34.5%
Social Media 67.9% 26.9%

2. Immigration: Do you support or oppose the separation of children from immigrant parents who have come across our border whether illegally or to ask for asylum?

Party Affiliation Support Oppose
Strong Dem 3.7% 95.7%
Lean Dem 2.2% 93.4%
Independent 12.6% 77.4%
Lean GOP 25.0% 60.7%
Strong GOP 37.9% 52.2%
Primary Source of
Political News
Support Oppose
Local TV News 14.0% 79.8%
Fox News 44.8% 46.2%
CNN/MSNBC 2.6% 92.2%
Network News 5.7% 90.6%
Radio 12.5% 82.1%
Newspaper 13.1% 79.8%
Social Media 20.5% 71.8%

3. Education: Do you support or oppose free, taxpayer-supported tuition for college or
skilled trades education for all students?

Party Affiliation Support Oppose
Strong Dem 73.1% 11.1%
Lean Dem 73.9% 21.7%
Independent 57.6% 35.8%
Lean GOP 30.4% 57.2%
Strong GOP 24.3% 70.0%
Primary Source of
Political News
Support Oppose
Local TV News 57.9% 33.3%
Fox News 23.9% 71.7%
CNN/MSNBC 74.0% 20.8%
Network News 71.7% 24.5%
Radio 51.7% 40.3%
Newspaper 58.3% 38.1%
Social Media 66.7% 25.6%

The survey is a live operator telephone survey of likely 2020 Michigan voters conducted from July 17-20, 2019. The survey has a margin of error of +/-4.0% with a 95% level of confidence. 40% of respondents were contacted by cell phone, and 60% of respondents were contacted by landline.

The survey was commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber and conducted by Glengariff Group Inc.

Read the press release.

View the full findings of the Michigan Statewide Policy Survey.

Follow the Chamber’s social media for coverage of the debate this week.




In the News

Bridge MI: Michigan to Democrats: Tariffs Hurt, but We Aren’t Sold on Medicare for All

Crain’s Detroit Business: Poll: Michigan Voters Largely Agree on Economy, Tariffs, Immigration and Climate Change

Michigan Advance: Poll: Michigan Voters Say Immigration Helps Economy, Split on Health Care

The Detroit News: Poll: Michigan Voters Oppose Medicare for All As Democrats Head to Detroit

WWMT: Poll: Michiganders See Immigration, Trump As Most Important Issues; Split on Health Care