Lansing – A majority of Michigan voters approve of the job Gov. Rick Snyder is doing as the state's chief executive, but the same can't be said about his fellow Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature.
Snyder's approval rating among likely voters stands at 55 percent, while 50 percent disapprove of the Legislature's performance, according to a statewide poll released Monday exclusively to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV. The Chicago-based Glengariff Group Inc. survey of 600 likely voters has a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.
The new polling data comes one month after voters resoundingly rejected the road funding plan the Legislature placed before them after failing to reach a compromise on how to raise $1.3 billion more annually to fix the state's roads and bridges.
The Republican governor's approval rating is the highest that the Glengariff polling firm has recorded during his five years in office, pollster Richard Czuba said.
"Clearly the governor was not hurt by Proposal 1," Czuba said. "(But) the public is not happy with the Legislature right now, and I think they have probably taken a good chunk of the blame for Proposal 1."
The failed Proposal 1 ballot question sought increases in the sales and fuel taxes as part a complicated plan that generated more money for road construction, schools, cities and public transportation, as well as a more generous tax break for the working poor.
While Democratic voters overwhelmingly disapprove of the Republican-controlled Legislature's actions, lawmakers also may have a problem with independent voters, Czuba said.
About 52 percent of independent voters disapprove of the Legislature's performance, while 32 percent approve. Snyder has a 48 percent approval rating among independents and a 43.9 percent disapproval rating among those voters, which is just outside the poll's margin of error.
"He has earned residents' approval the hard way by taking on tough challenges since he took office, and the results are showing in the economy, jobs and overall outlook for the state," Snyder spokesman Jarrod Agen said Monday.
Ken Sikkema, senior policy fellow for Public Sector Consultants of Lansing, said the poll shows Snyder benefits from his involvement in Detroit's problems. His job rating among a small sample of Detroiters was split at 47.5 percent approval compared with 47.5 percent disapproval six months after the city emerged from bankruptcy.
"I think the big takeaway for me is the governor's approval rating in the city of Detroit (resulting from) his work on behalf of the city — getting them out of bankruptcy and, of late, his effort to solve the problems of the Detroit schools, both financially and academically," Sikkema said.
"To be even in the city of Detroit as a Republican governor, I'm not even sure Gov. Milliken could have done that," said Czuba, referring to former Gov. William Milliken, a Republican who was somewhat popular in Detroit in the 1970s. "The residents of Detroit are acknowledging all of the efforts he's put into the city."
The former Michigan Senate majority leader, a Republican, theorized state lawmakers are bearing the brunt of government distrust, but noted they still are held in higher regard than members of the U.S. Congress.
"There's just a prevalent distrust of government – what I'd call faceless government," Sikkema said. "The Legislature, as an entity, always has struggled to get above 40 percent (public approval)."
Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint was less charitable.
"When you pursue an extreme agenda that's out of step with Michigan values, voters take notice," Ananich said. "I think these results speak to that."
Forty-three percent of voters surveyed said the state is on the right track, while 34 percent said it's not and 23 percent were unsure or refused to answer, according to the poll.
Czuba said the poll results also challenge conventional wisdom that Snyder's sometimes centrist leanings are turning off fellow Republicans. Nearly 88 percent of likely voters who identify as Republican said they approve of Snyder's performance, according to the poll.
"Anybody who tells you Gov. Snyder has a problem in the Republican base is spending too much time at county conventions," Czuba said.
Glengariff Group's telephone poll of 600 likely voters had a 30 percent cell phone sample and was not commissioned by any group or news organization. It was conducted June 9-11 and had a partisan breakdown of 40 percent Democratic, 33 percent Republican and 25 percent independent.