Dec. 15, 2022
Voters generally feel like Michigan is on the right track post-election day, but concerns about inflation and the economy remain, especially among Republican voters, according to survey data collected in the Detroit Regional Chamber’s latest statewide poll of registered Michigan voters.
“Not surprisingly, the economy – especially the continued high level of inflation – continues to be front and center in voters’ minds,” Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said in a statement. “But other than certain pockets of voters, Michiganders appear to be expressing a collective sigh of relief post-election day with an increased confidence in our voting process, calls for a centrist agenda in Lansing and confidence in Governor Whitmer as she embarks on her second term.”
The survey was conducted in partnership with the Glengariff Group, Inc., between November 28 and December 1, 2022. Questions were asked of 600 voters statewide.
Most of those survey said they were concerned about inflation, with 92 percent saying it was a concern and 64.5 percent saying they were very concerned.
Of those surveyed, about two-thirds said they have had to make new spending choices, but 66 percent of voters also said they were doing the same or better economically than in the past.
“A vast majority of consumers and voters are saying, ‘Hey, we’re doing OK, but we’re still cranky about the economy,” Mr. Baruah said. “That’s been an ongoing issue that I’ve been waiting to see if that starts to shift, but we haven’t seen that yet.”
Consumer confidence is also low right now, with the University of Michigan consumer confidence number at 59.9, which is lower than it was during much of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.
“It does continue to show this dichotomy that we see in consumer behavior. GDP is strong, the unemployment rate is still at record low, both nationally and close to record lows here in Michigan. People are clearly still spending because we’re seeing that in the economy, but they’re still very cranky,” Mr. Baruah said.
Notably, Republican voters are more likely to be concerned about inflation and the state of the economy.
“There is a clear political component to this inflation conversation,” said Richard Czuba, president of the Glengariff Group, Inc. “Those who are saying they’re worse off are disproportionately Republican voters.”
Of those who said they’re worse off economically than they have been in the past, 50 percent are base Republican voters compared to 31 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats, according to the survey data.
Despite concerns about the economy, most voters feel like the state is on the right track.
“This is something I’ve been watching for 40 years,” Mr. Czuba said. “It’s not often to see Michigan on the right track, frankly, with the voters.”
That data correlates with confidence in Michigan’s leadership, with Governor Gretchen Whitmer receiving a 66 percent approval rating.
“They are pleased with the direction of the state leadership, but inflation is just an ongoing concern,” Mr. Czuba said.
Most voters also approved of how the election was handled, with 84 percent approving of the process by which they voted.
“There was a sigh of relief that the 2022 election was without a lot of drama,” Mr. Baruah said.
Those who disapproved of the election process were disproportionately Republican primary voters, Mr. Czuba said.
“These voters are equating their faith in democracy or their optimism in democracy on whether or not their candidate won, not with the system,” Mr. Czuba said.
The survey showed that voters approve of legislation on gun control, with 24 percent of voters agreeing it should be the number one priority for the new legislative term. Background checks for gun purchases received support from 90 percent of voters surveyed and red flag laws were supported by 74 percent of voters.
Repealing the pension tax was also a popular priority, supported as the number one priority by 18 percent of those surveyed and repealing Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban was the third most popular priority at 15 percent.
“It’s very rare to see a policy at 90 percent support amongst the voters,” Mr. Czuba said on background checks for gun purchases. “That’s a low-hanging fruit opportunity for this new Legislature to pass some of these centrist issues that have support across the board.”
Repealing Michigan’s right to work law was only considered a top priority by 4.5 percent of voters and passing legislation prohibiting discrimination against LBGTQ workers was a top priority for just under 4 percent, according to the survey data.
This is the first year the Chamber has asked voters about how important a state’s social policies – such as its stance on abortion, gay rights and legalized marijuana – were to their choice to live or move there.
Of those surveyed, 60 percent of voters said it would be important and 38 percent said it would not be. Among voters under the age of 40, 46 percent of those surveyed said social policies were very important to them. Social policies were also more important to women than they were to men, according to the survey data.
“What is clear in these numbers is that it does factor into, particularly young workers, decision about where they’re going to go,” Mr. Czuba said.
Understanding the answer to that question is important to economic development, Mr. Baruah said.
“When we talk to employers, their biggest challenge is attracting and retaining talent,” he said. “Social issues are now becoming economic issues. … It’s important for us to understand how the social issues interplay with the talent retention and attraction issues.”