The Detroit Regional Chamber released findings today from a new statewide poll of registered voters in Michigan that provides insight and data on how state voters have reacted to the ongoing dual public health and economic crises.
The chamber commissioned Glengariff Group Inc. to complete a statewide general population poll of 600 registered Michigan voters between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4.
The poll’s findings simultaneously demonstrate fundamental consistencies and an evolution of Michigan voters’ priorities compared with the chamber’s previous polls conducted in April and May of 2020.
“As we mark the ninth month of the pandemic, promising news on vaccine distribution, and the governor temporarily reimposing business restrictions, the chamber wanted to assess how voters feel about Michigan’s health, economy, and political situation,” says Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
“Similar to our statewide polls in April and May, voters are sending a clear message that public health measures are essential to beating the pandemic and that the public health crisis and business restrictions are harming our economy.
“This poll also highlighted a series of new concerns for Michigan voters,” says Baruah. “Voters were clear that government leaders need to support small businesses, keep manufacturing open, and do more to find a bipartisan consensus to stop the pandemic.”
The poll results show stability in how seriously Michiganders are taking the virus and how concerned they remain about the economic consequences of prolonged shutdowns.
“There is a lot of nuance in how voters are approaching this crisis,” says Richard Czuba, president of Glengariff Group. “As we’ve seen in the past, voters understand the health risk of the pandemic. But these numbers also show that voters understand the economic difficulties facing small businesses. Voters are saying they understand the health dimension, but they also are saying we want to make sure small businesses are helped through the economic crisis. Voters are saying both are important.”
The following are some key themes from the polling results:
Michiganders Continue to View COVID-19 as a Public Health Threat
- A majority of Michigan voters believe the pandemic situation is worse in Michigan than in April — 82.7 percent of Michigan residents believe the situation is the same or worse than April.
- Among respondents, 60.3 percent believe the threat of COVID-19 has been balanced or downplayed, compared to 33.8 percent who believe the threat has been exaggerated. Those numbers remain virtually unchanged from May when 58.8 percent believed the threat of COVID-19 has been balanced or downplayed, compared to 32.2 percent who believed the threat has been exaggerated.
- 83.8 percent of Michigan voters say that getting the pandemic under control would help Michigan’s economy.
Michigan Voters Overwhelmingly Say the Economy is Worse Than Before Pandemic
- 83.7 percent of Michigan voters believe the state’s economy is worse now than before the pandemic hit.
- There is deep and broad agreement among every demographic group that Michigan’s economy is worse since the pandemic.
- 58 percent of Michigan voters say that COVID-19 is affecting their household finances.
- Voters described COVID-19’s impact on their household finances. The numbers on the left look at December 2020 compared to the numbers on the right from May 2020. One in four voters continues to deal with catastrophic or major effects on their household finances.
Dec May Effect
6.2% 5.0% Catastrophic
18.0% 18.8% Major effect
34.2% 46.3% Minor effect
41.0% 27.7% No effect
- The most significant impact continues to be on voters under the age of 40 years old. For voters 18-29, 34.1 percent said the impact was catastrophic or major. For voters 30-39, 32.8 percent said the impact was catastrophic or major.
- 45.8 percent said the economy was worse because elected officials kept shutting down businesses.
- 39.6 percent said the economy was worse because we cannot get the virus under control.
Top Post-Pandemic Priority: Support Small Businesses
- 58 percent of Michigan voters said helping small businesses bounce back was the first issue that state leaders should address.
- Voters shared what they believe is the first issue state leaders should work on once Michigan emerges from the pandemic.
- 58.0 percent – Helping small businesses bounce back.
- 6.7 percent – Improving access to health care.
- 6.3 percent – Job training for people hurt by the pandemic.
- 6.2 percent – Attracting more jobs to the state.
- 5.8 percent – Improving Michigan’s schools.
- 2.3 percent – Fixing Michigan’s roads and bridges.
- 2.2 percent – Lowering the cost of college tuition.
- 5.2 percent – Miscellaneous issues.
“We are gratified that by a wide margin, Michigan voters agree with the chamber that supporting small businesses is their top priority,” says Baruah.
Last week in a letter to the Michigan Congressional Delegation, the chamber urged swift passage of a bipartisan pandemic relief bill that takes on the following measures:
- Paycheck Protection Program
- Enhanced Unemployment Assistance
- Assistance to States
- Legal Liability Protection for Businesses
“The chamber recognizes that businesses are struggling through no fault of their own. A robust post-pandemic recovery requires bipartisan action to provide relief,” says Baruah. “The time to act is now, and leaders at the state and local level should be working on solutions that help small businesses.”
Michigan Voters Put Priority on Keeping Business Open
Voters were given a list of five entities and asked if they could only keep ONE open, which would be their highest priority.
- 30.3 percent – Manufacturing plants
- 22.8 percent – Retail and small businesses
- 18.7 percent – K-12 schools
- 3.8 percent – Construction companies
- 3.5 percent – Restaurants
- Cumulatively, business was the highest priority among all party affiliations. But at 24.1 percent, K-12 schools was the single highest priority for strong Republican voters.
Voters Don’t See Bipartisanship
- Voters rated Gov. Whitmer on a scale of one to 10 for working in a bipartisan manner to get the pandemic under control. Overall, voters rated Gov. Whitmer at 5.8.
- Metro voters rated her 6.5. Out-state voters rated her at 5.1. Independent voters rate her at 6.0 for bipartisanship.
Strong Dem 8.4
Lean Dem 7.6
Lean GOP 4.1
Strong GOP 2.9
- Voters rated the State Legislature leaders on a scale of one to 10 for working in a bipartisan manner to get the pandemic under control. Overall, voters rated legislative leadership at 4.5. Legislative leaders get their highest rating from Leaning Democratic and Independent voters.
Strong Dem 4.1
Lean Dem 5.3
Lean GOP 4.6
Strong GOP 4.2
Michiganders Listen to Public Health Officials
- In addition to wearing masks, Michigan voters listen to public health officials, contributing to a noticeable decline in cases from the spike we had around Thanksgiving.
- 76.2 percent of Michigan voters have changed their holiday plans.
- 86 percent of Strong Democratic voters have changed their plans. 79% of Independent voters have changed their plans. 60% of Strong Republican voters have changed their plans.
- Voters reported specifically how their plans had changed:
- 19.9 percent – Smaller gatherings
- 19.9 percent – No travel plans
- 17.9 percent – No gatherings at all or staying alone
- 12.7 percent – Canceled plans
- 10.3 percent – Immediate family only
- 10.1 percent – No family get together
Voters Split on How to Make School Work
- 49.7 percent of voters want to see schools held online, while 36.0 percent say it is safe to send children to school. 6.5 percent said school should be a combination of online and in person.
- These numbers are statistically identical to numbers from early September 2020.
Time Period Online School/ Safe Combination
Sept 2020 49.5% 37.8% 6.7%
Dec 2020 49.7% 36.0% 6.5%
- The division remains among parents with school-aged children on whether school should be online or in-person: 2 percent of parents said it was safe to send children to school, while 46.1 percent of parents said school should be online. 8.8 percent of parents said it should be a combination of the two.
Voters Comfortable with Grocery Stores, Work, and Socializing Outside
- On a scale of one to 10 voters shared how confident they were to attend specific locations. The higher the number, the greater the confidence in attending that location. The data below ranks the highest to the lowest levels of confidence.
- 7.8 – Grocery store
- 7.4 – Socialize with friends or family outdoors
- 7.3 – Work
- 5.9 – Church
- 5.7 – Socialize with friends or family indoors
- 5.4 – Eat indoors at a restaurant
- 4.5 – Gym or Health club
- 4.5 – Movies
- 4.0 – Bar
- The chart below rates all nine locations by party affiliation. All highlighted numbers are above 7.0.
- Strong GOP voters are confident above 7.0 going to every location, except bars.
- Independent voters are confident going to the grocery store, work and outdoors with friends/family.
- Strong Democratic voters are not confident above 7.0 going to any of these locations. View the full findings from the December Michigan COVID Priorities Poll, the May and April public opinion poll, and the Chamber’s regional executive survey.