MPPS Policy Brief: Despite two-year trend of improvement, most Michigan local officials continue to say the state is on the wrong track

May 2023

This report presents the opinions of Michigan’s local government leaders regarding the direction in which the state is headed, as well as their evaluations of the job performance of Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the spring 2023 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS)— conducted between February 6 and April 17, 2023—and tracking comparisons to previous spring waves.

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Key findings

  • Although local leaders statewide are not generally optimistic about the direction Michigan is headed, there are wide gaps in these assessments across partisan identification. Among self-identified Republican local leaders, just 13% say the state is going in the right direction (essentially equivalent to the 12% who said the same last year). Among officials who identify as Independents, 32% now say that Michigan is going in the right direction (unchanged from 2022, but up from 24% in 2021). Meanwhile, 85% of local officials who self-identify as Democrats express optimism about the direction of the state, up significantly from the 72% who said the same in 2022.
  • The percentage of local leaders in 2023 who rate Governor Whitmer’s performance as “poor” declined from 44% last year to 38%, however, fewer than a third (30%) currently rate her performance as either “excellent” or “good.” Meanwhile, 27% rate the Governor’s job performance as “fair,” up slightly from 23% a year ago.
    • Ratings of good or excellent for the Governor are found among 86% of Democratic local leaders (up from 2022), compared with 37% of Independents and 11% of Republicans (both essentially unchanged from last year).
  • With the change in control of both the Michigan House and Senate from Republicans to Democrats, assessments of the Legislature’s performance have become significantly more partisan than in the past. Although the ratings among Independents are unchanged, with just 13% saying the Legislature is doing an excellent or good job, Republican leaders’ positive assessments have dropped from 19% last year to 7% in 2023, while Democrats’ positive assessments have more than doubled from 20% to 48%.



Despite improvements, most MI local officials say the state has gotten off on the wrong track Spring 2023 MPPS



The percent of Michigan local officials rating Governor Whitmer's job approval as good or excellent is unchanged since 2021 Spring 2023 MPPS



Relatively few local leaders overall believe the Michigan Legislature is doing an outright excellent or good job. Spring 2023 MPPS