For Immediate Release

Contact: Selma Tucker, Director of Marketing and Communications
Public Sector Consultants
(517) 484-4954

Offshore wind turbines, job creation, education in; prisons out

Fresh off the heels of Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address outlining his administration’s priorities, we went to Michigan voters and asked for their opinions. What’s so great about living in Michigan? Where would you like to see investment in the years ahead? Where should the state cut services? While the answers of our telephone survey were clear, that doesn’t mean the path forward is obvious.

We started by asking our sample of 600 likely voters in the state, what is the best part of living in Michigan? Two clear favorites accounted for the opinions of almost eight out of every ten Michigan voters — family (36 percent) and natural resources (42 percent). The six remaining choices received 4 percent or less respectively, including cultural resources, entertainment, K–12 schools, colleges and universities, tax rate, and availability of well-paying jobs. Regardless of age, race or political affiliation, Michigan’s natural resources ranked high.

So, the result is clear — outside of family ties, Michiganders value their lakes, rivers, parks and forests more than all of the other choices combined. But when given the choice of where to cut state spending, Michigan’s natural and cultural resources were the second most popular target at 14 percent, behind only prisons, which got 22 percent of the vote for cuts. Prisons were also ranked the lowest priority for investment among all choices (1 percent).

  • Michigan voters over the age of 65 (37 percent) were more likely to invest in job creation compared to 18–34 year olds (26 percent), and white Michigan voters (34 percent) were more likely to support investments in job creation than African-American voters (23 percent).
  • Democrats (27 percent) were more likely to invest in K–12 education than Republicans (18 percent).
  • Cuts to prisons were more popular among 18–34 year olds (36 percent) compared to those over age 65 (22 percent), among African-Americans (38 percent) compared to white voters (20 percent), and Democrats (29 percent) compared to Republicans (16 percent).

We also asked Michigan voters about their level of support for offshore wind turbines in Michigan. This is another case where the response was clear, but the path ahead is still murky. There is ample evidence showing that local governments and residents in Michigan’s coastal areas — particularly on Lake Michigan — are strongly opposed to offshore wind turbines. The results of our statewide poll, however, show overwhelming approval for offshore wind turbines in Michigan. Nearly eight out of every ten voters approve of offshore wind development (40 percent of voters strongly approve, 35 percent somewhat approve).

A consistent priority voiced by Michigan’s voters was K–12 education, with 24 percent identifying this as a priority for investment, second only to creating jobs (33 percent). When asked to grade their local schools and the state’s schools, Michiganders typically give their local schools higher marks — and this poll is no exception — with 61 percent giving their local schools an A or B, compared to just 35 percent that gave Michigan’s K–12 schools an A or B. But there are some exceptions, especially by race.

  • Younger voters age 18–34 (who are more likely to either just have left, or have children in their local K–12 system) are more likely to give their local schools an A or B (77 percent) compared to those over age 65 (57 percent).
  • African-American voters are more critical of their local schools, with 41 percent giving them an A or B, compared to 64 percent of white voters. At 20 percent, African-Americans were also far more likely to give their local schools a D or F, compared to 8 percent of white voters.

Finally, we asked voters which Michigan sports team they would choose if they could get free season tickets. It appears that new coach Jim Harbaugh may have given the University of Michigan a tiny bump in the polls — Michigan football tickets were preferred over Michigan State football tickets by a single respondent. But at 26 percent, the clear winner was the Detroit Tigers.

Stateside with Cynthia Canty on Michigan Radio (WUOM 91.7 FM – Ann Arbor/Detroit, WFUM 91.1 FM – Flint, WVGR 104.1 FM – Grand Rapids) and Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants, will dig into the new poll results today from 3:00–4:00 PM. The program will be rebroadcast at 10:00 PM.

About the survey

Michigan Radio, an NPR News Station and the state’s most listened-to public radio service, and Public Sector Consultants (PSC), the state’s premier nonpartisan think tank, are partnering on a yearlong initiative studying Michiganders’ attitudes toward policy issues affecting their lives in a series called Michigan’s Pulse. Michigan’s Pulse will release quarterly in weeklong segments on Michigan Radio’s Stateside with Cynthia Canty with in-depth analysis by PSC researchers and other thought leaders.

The Michigan Radio/PSC survey of the Michigan electorate was conducted by Lansing-based Denno Research. Six-hundred respondents in the state of Michigan were surveyed from February 2–5, 2015, with a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percent. A screen was employed to include only those participants who said they would vote, either at the polls or by absentee ballot, in the November 2016 general election.

Full survey results are available here.

Public Sector Consultants is Michigan’s most respected, connected, and dedicated research and program management firm, with specialties in governance and regulation, health care, education, energy, and environmental policy. PSC is committed to providing objective research and sound solutions to the public and private sector.

Michigan Radio is an NPR News Station, and the state’s most listened-to public radio service, attracting more than 500,000 listeners each week across Michigan. Licensed to the University of Michigan, Michigan Radio broadcasts at 91.7 FM in southeastern Michigan, 91.1 FM in Flint, and 104.1 in western Michigan, and is available online at michiganradio.org.

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