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Michigan Policy Insiders Believe the next Governor will be a Democrat

Results from the third round of the Michigan Policy Insiders Panel (MPIP), conducted in March, indicates Michigan's insiders largely believe Michigan's next governor will be a Democrat.

Nearly 74% of the 374 insiders who responded predicted a Democrat will hold the state's highest office after the next election. Even slim majority of Republican-identified insiders, about 53%, predicted a Democrat will win the gubernatorial race, while 47% percent believe the winner will be Republican.

Among independents, 77% predicted a Democratic victory and 91% of Democratic insiders believe their own party will win.

MPIP is a project of Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR), in conjunction with the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the University of Michigan. The goal is to understand how policymakers learn about state problems, develop political influence, and interact to produce policy solutions.

The targeted population for the panel included all persons regarded as “political insiders” in the state of Michigan. This included high-ranking members of state government agencies, current members of Michigan’s Legislature and their staff assistants, association and corporate lobbyists, state relations officers, think tanks, public relations professionals, and state political media personnel.

The survey was fielded from March 14 to March 28, 2017.  Email invitations were sent to 610 MPIP panel members, 436 respondents accessed the survey and 415 competed it.

At that time, no Republicans had entered the race, while former Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, Detroit's former director of public health, Abdul El-Sayed, and Former Xerox executive Bill Cobbs had already announced their candidacies.

Since that time, Attorney General Bill Schuette has formally kicked off his campaign and speculation persists that Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley will also seek the Republican nomination. Republican Senator Patrick Colbeck of Canton has also thrown his hat in the ring. Biochemical entrepreneur Shri Thanedar has also begun campaigning as a Democrat.

Insiders' approval of current Governor Rick Snyder also improved considerably in March from last October, while remaining lukewarm. About 11% rated his performance as "excellent," up from 6%, and the percentage of insiders who considered his performance "poor" declined from 26% to 15%.

While is percentage of respondents rating his performance as "good" barely budged, declining a percentage point from 34% to 33%, his approval rating of "fair" jumped six points, from 35% to 41%.

More results from the third round of IPPSR's MPIP are forthcoming.

Simon Schuster is a graduate policy fellow at the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.