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.