Michigan community leaders trust local governance more than federal and state institutions

“All politics are local,” the saying goes, and the same could be said of what local leaders think about the health of democratic governance.

A survey of Michigan local leaders released today by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan finds they are significantly more positive about how democracy works in their jurisdictions than they are on democracy at the state or federal level.

Michigan’s Spring 2020 Public Policy Survey received responses from 1,342 Michigan jurisdictions (counties, towns, townships and villages) regarding how democracy currently works and local leaders’ confidence in government.

The results show that on a 10-point scale, where 1 means a complete collapse of democracy and 10 means a fully functioning democracy, 84% of local leaders rate democracy in their jurisdiction at 7 or more, compared to just 41% for democracy. in Michigan overall, and only 21% for Democracy in the United States.

These numbers reflect an earlier publication of a poll that showed 98% of local Michigan officials are confident in the precise administration of the votes for 2020 at the local level.

“We often examine the differences of opinion between local leaders in urban, suburban and rural Michigan communities, and when it comes to opinions about the health of local democracy, there are high marks in everything. spectrum, ”said Debra Horner, head of the investigation. Project Manager. “But there are differences at the state level, with urban rulers rating Michigan democracy higher, and at the federal level, where rulers in” predominantly urban “places are most likely to give it a low rating. “

The survey finds that when it comes to trust in government, there is a similar pattern in the attitudes of local leaders, with high levels of trust in other local governments (72%), followed by much lower trust. in the state government (25%), and finally the least trust in the federal government (12%). These trust levels have all increased from previous MPPS surveys, with the biggest increase being trust in other local governments.

To complement the trust assessments, the MPPS also asked local leaders to what extent they trust their citizens to participate responsibly in local governance. Trust levels here have also increased slightly over time, with 63% of local leaders saying they trust their residents almost always or most of the time, compared to 53% in 2012 and 2016.

“Many studies have found democracy in decline, in the United States and around the world,” said Tom Ivacko, executive director of CLOSUP. “But Michigan local government leaders tell us that democracy is working pretty well, at least in their communities, and that their confidence in government is growing.”

CLOSUP led the MPPS Spring 2020 wave between March 30 and June 1. Launched following the Great Recession in 2009 by CLOSUP, the MPPS is conducted in partnership with the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association.

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