The Center for Michigan held a polling event in Ann Arbor Wednesday, during which 68 percent of attendees said their trust in Michigan’s government is “low” or “very low.”
The event, held at the Ford School of Public Policy and attended by 25 community members, aimed to gather research on public trust in state government. Polling topics included the government’s ability to protect public health, provide services for low-income families and foster economic growth, as well as the fairness of the emergency manager system and term limits in the Michigan legislature. The group plans to publish their findings with the aim of affecting policy change in Michigan.
The center is a non-profit organization that gathers data to gauge how residents feel about state-wide issues. During the event, each of the 25 people in attendance was given a clicker to respond to a variety of questions regarding their level of trust in the state government.
Public Policy Prof. Elisabeth Gerber, who previously worked with the center, introduced the event and the center’s goals in research and the state government.
“The center considers itself a think-and-do tank,” Gerber said. “Its primary mission is to go beyond research.”
Gerber said events such as this aim to collect data for research in order to push a non-partisan, centrist policy agenda in the state legislature.
“This is an important part of what we do,” Gerber said. “Engaging in in-depth conversations about important issues with lots of different people around the state.”
Center Outreach Coordinator Dwayne Barnes, who moderated the polling, said this event is the fourth in their larger community conversation campaign. He added that the center will put on similar events around the state of Michigan for the remainder of the calendar year.
According to data provided by the center, only 20 percent of Michigan residents currently trust the state government “most of the time.” The area where participants typically placed the least trust in state government was in their ability to protect public health. All 25 people polled Wednesday answered that their trust was “low” or “very low” in this area of the state government, and the Flint water crisis was discussed as a possible cause of this significant distrust.
The participants placed the most trust in the state government to foster economic growth. However, even then, only 32 percent said they had a “high” level of trust.
Barnes said location within Michigan could affect participant responses due to varying political beliefs in certain geographic areas.
“As we go across the state, no conversation is the same, and that’s what makes this job so unique,” he said.
Rackham student Jennifer Mann said she participated in the event because she had heard about the center and was curious about how they facilitated these conversations.
“I think you’re hearing from a lot of different viewpoints and different voter bases,” Mann said. “We’re coming at things from different perspectives, but you end up hearing somewhat similar threads throughout, which is kind of encouraging to hear about a population living in a similar area.”