Michigan voters are losing confidence in democracy, education and the economy, polls show

A new survey of Michigan voters shows their confidence in the institution of democracy, the value of a college education and the stability of the economy is declining, even among those who say they are doing better personally than before the COVID pandemic .

The poll also asked whether the use of force, threats or violence is justified under all circumstances in a democracy, and 35% of respondents said it is.

In addition, 5% of Michigan voters said violence would be justified if their preferred candidate for president loses the 2024 election after all votes are “fairly” counted. Ninety percent said there would be no justification for violence in that case.

The extensive polling commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber ahead of this week’s Mackinac Policy Conference, which begins Tuesday in several areas, points to a discrepancy between reality and what voters consider the truth, especially when it comes to the economy and the inflation rate .

“One thing we see not just in this survey, but in a host of surveys, is that voters can no longer agree on some basic facts. We are in an age of misinformation,” said pollster Richard Czuba, founder of the Glengariff Group. who conducted the survey. “And because we can’t agree on the facts, they can’t analyze the basics of what they see before them.”

Some of the most striking findings from the survey concerned respondents’ views on the state of democracy, with Czuba blaming political polarization resulting from misinformation for “undermining” a once-shared belief in democracy. institution.

A bipartisan majority, 68% of respondents, said they were dissatisfied with the state of American democracy. Only 26% of voters said they were satisfied.

When asked why they are unhappy with the state of democracy, Republicans said “Joe Biden and the Democrats” (23%) and that politicians don’t listen to the people (9%), while Democrats blamed partisanship and infighting (27%) and “Donald Trump and the Republicans” (16%). Independent voters also blamed partisanship and infighting (17%).

“We point at each other a lot,” Czuba said.

The survey of 600 registered voters was conducted from May 1 to 5 and had a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Are authoritarians favored?

A third of voters in the poll would not say democracy is the best form of government. Sixty-seven percent agreed, and one in six (17%) said it “doesn’t really matter” whether the U.S. government is democratic or non-democratic.

Another 5% said an authoritarian government may be preferable under certain circumstances, and 11% expressed no opinion, the survey results showed. Authoritarian regimes concentrate political power in the hands of a single leader or a small group and do not grant citizens political rights or civil liberties.

Centrist voters were more likely than grassroots Democratic and Republican voters to say the form of government doesn’t matter, according to the poll. Additionally, 34% of black respondents said the form of government did not matter, compared to 15% of white voters.

Eighty-six percent of Michigan voters view political violence as a threat to democracy, with half saying it is a “serious” threat and 35% saying it is somewhat of a threat. When asked about circumstances in which violence or threats might be justified in a democracy, 52% said there are no circumstances that justify violence, but 35% said there are circumstances.

These circumstances, respondents said, include when a crime is committed (33%), riots or gangs (8%), terrorism or threats from a foreign power (8%), police responding with force (6% ), revolution against federal supremacy. (5%), the January 6 Capitol riot (5%) and “protests going overboard” (4%).

Ninety percent of respondents say there is no justification for violence if their preferred presidential candidate loses the 2024 election after their votes are fairly counted, but 5% say violence would be justified. Another 1.5% said it depends on whether the votes were actually counted fairly, and 4% were undecided.

“While that may not seem like much, 5% of our population is made up of a lot of people. I want to point that out,” Czuba said. “That’s a lot of people who believe violence is justified.”

The survey also asked whether there would be a justification for violence or threats if their presidential candidate lost the 2024 election and their candidate believed the opposing party took illegal or unfair actions to win, despite election officials deeming the count fair.

Eighty-seven percent said there would be no justification for violence, and 6% said there would be, with the survey showing 6% were “almost exclusively” Republican voters, Czuba said — a large portion of which were Republican men . Thirteen percent of strong Republican voters said there is a justification for violence in the situation.

“That’s a red flag, but it’s also a reflection of what we’ve been talking about in this country for the last four years,” Czuba said. “The attacks on the Capitol have polarized this country, and there is a segment of the strong Republican base in particular that thinks this is justified, and that’s a really concerning number.”

The survey also reflected an erosion in voters’ faith in individual democratic principles such as freedom of worship, freedom of speech and that votes are counted accurately and the same as everyone else’s.

A majority of Republican voters (60%), independents (51%) and black voters (56%) said they do not have confidence in their right to free speech.

A majority of Republican voters (57%) also doubted their vote counts as much as everyone else’s. Voters over 65 were most confident that their vote counts as much as others: 73% to 25%. Sixty-one percent of Republicans also don’t trust their votes are being counted accurately.

Czuba noted that no demographic group in the survey expressed confidence that federal law enforcement is applying the law equally and fairly and without bias, with 67% of Republican voters not confident in this statement.

Trust in local law enforcement is lowest among black voters, 69% of whom do not trust local police, compared to 64% of white voters who trust local law enforcement to apply the law fairly and without bias .

Conflicting views on economics

The economy was another example of striking differences in perception among voters.

For example, 61% of respondents see the economy as weakening or in recession, even though the country’s gross domestic product, or economic output, grew 3.4% in the last quarter of 2023, the stock market rose and Michigan’s unemployment rate remains low at 3.9%.

The 61% of voters who perceive a weakening economy represents a decline of 7.6 percentage points since November, with Republicans becoming more pessimistic in their assessment of the economy as weakening, while Democrats and independent voters are more positive and increasing their economic assessments , Czuba noted. However, independent voters are still pessimistic, by a margin of 37% to 59%.

Only 28% of respondents correctly stated that inflation was at or below 4% over the past year, while 37% believe that inflation is above 6%. Inflation as of April is 3.4%). Again, strong Republicans were more likely to say inflation was above 6%.

Only 22% of survey respondents said a four-year college degree is worth the money. About 64% of “strong” Republican voters and 49% of self-identified independent voters said a four-year degree wasn’t worth the cost.

Eighty-two percent of all respondents said a four-year degree at universities in Western, Central, Eastern or Northern Michigan costs more than a new car. The chamber said the average cost of public college education in Michigan is $11,000 per year.

“It is very difficult to rationalize why the level of consumer confidence in the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey is lower today than it was during the Great Recession thirteen years ago. Very difficult to understand,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO. near the room.

He did note that core inflation does not take into account things like gasoline and grocery store prices because those prices tend to fluctuate and some people may experience higher inflation depending on what they buy and where they are.

About 60% of respondents said they are doing the same or better economically than before the pandemic. Just over 26% said they are doing better, 34% said the same and 38% said worse.

Czuba noted that Republican voters determine the number of respondents who do worse, with 64% of them choosing this option. About 18% of Democrats said they are doing worse and 38% of independent voters.

At the same time, 14% of respondents said they are worried about losing their job, while 85% are not worried.

“This is one of those rare times when Michiganders aren’t worried about losing their jobs,” Czuba said. “And yet voters, by a margin of 39% to 52%, said the state’s economy is on the wrong track,” disproportionately blaming inflation and the cost of goods, including food.

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