Detroit aftermath

After saying in 2011 that Detroit bankruptcy wasn’t the option, the recent decision by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to allow the City of Detroit to file for Chapter 9 default protection produced the usual array of politically motivated responses. Opponents screamed about his flip-flop, while supporters insisted that the CPA-trained governor simply had explored every other possibility before making the decision. Beyond Michigan’s borders, many are watching how the dramatic aftermath plays out; will this be a sad– but isolated–incident, or will it be a harbinger for other units of government that are drowning in red ink?

Clearly, key to the debate is the ultimate decision about the pension benefits of city workers. Detroit is hardly alone in having horribly underfunded pensions for public workers. At risk is the financial future of thousands, and the eyes of the nation’s government and public-union leaders will be fixed on the drama that will certainly unfold in the near future.

On the evenings of July 23-24, we called Michigan residents to determine, among other things, their views on these questions:


 As you probably know, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently decided to go along with the decision to declare Detroit bankrupt. We’d like to know whether you generally APPROVE or DISAPPROVE of that decision.

      • Approve
      • Disapprove
      • Undecided

Does Gov. Snyder’s decision make you MORE LIKELY or LESS LIKELY to support him in next year’s election?

      • More likely
      • Less likely
      • Undecided

Detroit’s bankruptcy could possibly lead to a reduction of city workers’ retirement benefits in the future.  We’d like to know which of the following statements comes closest to your view on the situation.

      • It’s unfortunate, but necessary to cut retirement benefit due to the financial situation.
      • There is no excuse to cut any benefits.
      • Benefits should have been cut even without bankruptcy.
      • None of these

To provide some context, we asked each participant whether or not their household included a public or private-sector union member, and we derived from our calling list if the participant lived in Detroit or not.

Here are the basic weighted poll results:

Poll type: Automated - Date: July 23-24, 2013 - Participants: 1,338 Likely Voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.9%

Approve or Disapprove of Bankruptcy
Approve55%
Disapprove33%
Not Sure12%
More or Less Likely to support Gov. Snyder in 2014
More Likely41%
Less Likely42%
Not Sure17%
Bankruptcy Opinion
Unfortunate but Necessary29%
No Excuse39%
Cuts without Bankruptcy15%
None of These17%
CROSSTABS
Approve Bankruptcy by GENDER
ApproveDisapproveNot Sure
Female47%40%14%
Male65%25%10%
Approve Bankruptcy by PARTY AFFILIATION
ApproveDisapproveNot Sure
Republican73%16%10%
Democrat39%48%13%
Independent56%31%13%
Approve Bankruptcy by AGE BRACKET
ApproveDisapproveUndecided
18-2459%5%36%
25-3452%41%7%
35-4454%40%7%
45-5456%33%10%
55-6455%36%9%
65+54%30%17%
Approve Bankruptcy by ETHNIC ORIGIN
ApproveDisapproveNot Sure
African American46%44%10%
Asian62%12%25%
Hispanic33%36%31%
White57%31%12%
Other/Refused
Approve Bankruptcy by UNION HOUSEHOLD
ApproveDisapproveNot Sure
Public Sector49%39%12%
Non-Public Sector47%45%8%
No Union60%26%14%
Approve Bankruptcy by LOCATION
ApproveDisapproveNot Sure
Detroit20%65%15%
Rest of State58%30%12%

The results were weighted to adjust for any over-/under-sampling through our proprietary 65 different fields of criteria.

We’ll post the full set of data with other crosstabs soon.

The most interesting result to us was the comparison of those who favored the governor’s decision to proceed with bankruptcy (55%) to those who say it will make them more likely or less likely to support him in future elections (split decision 41% more likely, 42% less likely).  As the twists and turns of the upcoming proceedings unwind, those numbers are bound to change.

And we’re bound to be watching.

 

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