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Poll: Snyder approval rating sinks to new low

Jonathan Oosting, and Chad Livengood
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s job approval rating continues to sink and has again reached an all-time low as the embattled Republican works to address the Flint water contamination crisis.

The ongoing Flint water contamination crisis has spurred calls to expand Michigan public-records laws despite Gov. Rick Snyder’s decision to voluntarily release tens of thousands of administration emails, some of which have highlighted oversight and communications failures in state government.

A new statewide poll for The Detroit News and WDIV-TV shows 54 percent of likely Michigan voters disapprove of Snyder’s job performance. The survey of 600 Michigan residents, conducted July 30-Aug. 1 by Glengariff Group Inc., pegged the governor’s approval rating at 39.7 percent.

The numbers are the worst of Snyder’s nearly six-year tenure but consistent with a late May survey, when 52 percent of voters said they did not approve of his job performance. The 2-percentage-point change falls within the poll’s margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.

“The reports of my demise are well-overblown,” Snyder told business and political leaders earlier this summer at the Mackinac Policy Conference, attempting to lighten the dour outlook of his remaining two and a half years in office.

Pollster Richard Czuba said Snyder’s 25 percent disapproval rating among Republican voters is worrisome.

“Even 1-in-4 Republicans, the strong base Republicans, disapprove of the governor’s performance,” Czuba said. “These are not great numbers, by any stretch.”

Snyder, who was re-elected in 2014, is barred by constitutional term limits from running for a third four-year term.

“He would have an extraordinarily difficult time running for re-election right now,” said Czuba, president of the Glengariff Group Inc. polling firm.

Snyder enjoyed a 55 percent approval rating in a June 2015 survey by Glengariff, but the number has dropped amid fallout from the water crisis in Flint, where residents continue to rely on filtered and bottled water due to lead contamination. The governor and Legislature have so far approved more than $240 million in aid to help resolve a crisis caused, in part, by failures within state departments.

About 31 percent of Michigan voters now have a favorable opinion of Snyder, according to the new poll, while more than half have an unfavorable opinion.

Spokesman Ari Adler said the governor will continue to make executive office decisions based on policy, not polling numbers.

“Polls are often driven by current news reports, which have been negative as of late, but when you look at the big picture of how well Michigan is doing as a state, those numbers are very positive,” Adler said.

He pointed to Michigan’s falling unemployment rate, which last month hit its lowest point since February 2001, and said the state has added more than 460,000 private-sector jobs since Snyder took office.

“There are a lot of different economic indicators that show Michigan’s comeback is strong… and much of that comeback has to do with the policies driven by Gov. Snyder,” Adler said.

But Snyder’s low approval rating coincides with pessimism over the direction of the state and country, according to the poll.

About 38 percent of Michigan voters say the state is on the right track, compared with 46 percent who feel it is heading in the wrong direction.

And 29.5 percent of Michigan voters say the nation is heading in the right direction, compared with 57 percent who believe it is on the wrong track.

The new poll contained a notable bright spot for Snyder, who has devoted considerable time to the state’s largest city, including a historic bankruptcy filing: A plurality of Michigan voters say Detroit is on the right track.

Statewide, 42 percent of voters said Detroit was heading in the right direction, compared with 32 percent who said it was on the wrong track.