Michigan local leaders’ concerns about U.S. democracy at state and federal levels ease somewhat, but remain grim
This report presents local government leaders’ views regarding the functioning of democracy in their jurisdictions, the State of Michigan, and the United States as a whole. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the Spring 2022 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), conducted between April 4 and June 6, 2022, and includes comparisons to Spring 2020 and 2021 wave responses.
- When asked to rate the functioning of democracy on a ten-point scale—where one means a “total breakdown of democracy” and ten means “a perfectly functioning democracy”— 63% of Michigan local leaders rate democracy in the U.S. as a whole poorly, at four or lower on the scale. This is a slight improvement from the 66% who gave such poor ratings in 2021. Only 10% of Michigan local officials currently rate the functioning of democracy at the federal level as relatively strong, at seven or above, essentially unchanged from last year.
- Among local leaders who currently give U.S. democracy a poor rating, 18% feel there is a total breakdown of democracy at the federal level (a rating of one), down from 23% who said the same last year.
- Meanwhile, 32% of the state’s local leaders rate democracy in the state of Michigan poorly, at four or lower today. This is a significant improvement from the 43% who felt this way a year ago, but still represents widespread concern. Just over a quarter (27%) rate Michigan democracy as relatively strong, at seven or above on the scale, up from 20% who said the same in 2021.
- Among local leaders who give Michigan democracy a poor rating today, 5% feel there is a total breakdown of democracy at the state level, down from 11% last year.
- By contrast, Michigan local leaders continue to give high ratings to the functioning of local democracy in their own jurisdictions, with 84% rating it at seven or higher, unchanged from assessments in 2020 and 2021. Just 3% feel that democracy in their local jurisdiction is functioning poorly.
- Partisan identification plays little role in assessments of the functioning of democracy at the local level, but a significant one for the state and national levels. For local democracy, in 2022, Republicans (86%) are just slightly more likely than Democrats (83%) or Independents (82%) to give high ratings. However, for Michigan’s democracy overall, Democrats (45%) are much more likely to give high ratings compared with Independents (27%) and Republicans (23%), although these ratings improved among all partisan groups since 2021. And for democracy across the U.S., one in five (20%) Democratic local officials currently give high ratings, while the same is true of just 10% of Republicans and 8% of Independents.