Michigan Local Government Officials More Optimistic About State

Michigan state Capitol. A new survey found increased optimism among local officials about direction of the state.

Michigan state Capitol. A new survey found increased optimism among local officials about direction of the state. Shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

The Center for Local State and Urban Policy found more local leaders than last year saying they are optimistic Michigan is heading in the right direction.

Local leaders in Michigan are increasingly positive about the state, with more than half saying they are optimistic about its direction.

The Center for Local State and Urban Policy found that 56 percent of surveyed local government officials, which includes a wide array of leaders, from city managers to mayors, are hopeful about Michigan. Compared to last year, that’s a hike of 9 percentage points of officials who say the state is heading in the "right direction," reaching the highest levels since this survey began in 2011.

Thirty-three percent of respondents said Michigan is on the "wrong track," while the rest said they couldn’t answer.

Each year, the Michigan Public Policy Survey asks local officials in the state’s 1,856 cities, townships, counties and villages about their take on how things are going. The responses have been consistently partisan, and were again this year, with Republicans generally pleased with the state’s status. This is not surprising, given that Gov. Rick Snyder is Republican and the legislature, too, is controlled by Republicans. 

But optimism increased across the board, even among Democrats and self-identified independents, the 2018 survey found. In fact, non-affiliated respondents showed the biggest increase, with 46 percent of independents optimistic about the state’s direction compared to 31 percent last year. For Democrats, the increase was slimmer, with 30 percent expressing optimism, up from 26 percent in 2017. Republicans had the sunniest outlooks, with 72 percent saying the state is heading in the right direction.

Tom Ivacko, associate director of the center, which is located at the University of Michigan, said this year the survey didn’t include a question to try to pinpoint why officials were hopeful or not. But, in the past, the survey found that economic concerns played a key role in respondents’ sentiments and the state's economy has been growing, he said.

The survey, which is sent to elected and political leaders in each jurisdiction, was returned from 1,372 localities. The overall respondents skew Republican, as many rural townships are headed by Republican officials. The margin of error is plus or minus 1.35 percentage points.

Ivacko noted that local officials are key policy makers and can play a large role in their local economies. “We think it is important to understand the views and opinions of local government leaders,” he said, particularly emphasizing that state officials need their input.

Read the full survey here.

Laura Maggi is the Managing Editor of Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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