Cautionary tale for politicians: Support for charter schools is growing in Michigan

Buddy Moorehouse
Aug 19, 2020 3:31:21 PM

A statewide poll of Michigan residents, taken just as the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting, shows strong support for charter schools among every single demographic – geographically, politically and racially. The poll also shows that charter school support is growing – particularly in Detroit.

The poll was part of a multi-question poll on several topics conducted by the Marketing Resource Group (MRG) on March 16-20. Among the questions asked: “Do you favor or oppose charter schools in Michigan?”

Statewide, the poll showed 59% of Michigan residents favor charter schools, while only 25.3% oppose them. That favorable number was a whopping 11 percentage points higher than an MRG poll taken in 2018.

The numbers in Detroit – where half of all students attend charter schools – were even more overwhelming, with 61.3% of residents saying they favor charter schools, compared to just 19.4% who oppose them. That favorable number was 8 points higher than it was in 2018.

The poll also showed that candidates who oppose charter schools could be hurt at the ballot box – again, particularly in Detroit. For the first time, MRG asked respondents if they would be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate if that candidate supported charter schools.

While the majority of voters said a candidate’s stance on charter schools wouldn’t influence their vote, it does matter to a significant percentage of people – and that could make a huge difference in a close election.

Statewide, 19.9% of people said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate if they support charter schools, while 12.5% said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate if they oppose charter schools. And in Detroit, 22.6% of people said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate if they support charter schools, while only 9.7% said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate if they oppose charter schools.

The message for candidates: Oppose charter schools at your peril. In a close election, you’ll lose more votes than you’ll gain if you come out against charter schools.

Other findings from the poll:

  • Among Democrats, 45.3% favor charter schools, while 36.1% oppose them. Among Republicans, 75% favor charter schools, while 13.8% oppose them.
  • Among African-Americans, 58.5% favor charter schools, while 21.9% oppose them. Among whites, 59% favor charter schools, while 26% oppose them.
  • Geographically, every area of the state shows strong support for charter schools. In Metro Detroit, 60.3% favor charter schools, while 24.8% oppose them. In West Michigan, 58.5% favor charter schools, while 25.2% oppose them. And in the Upper Peninsula, a whopping 71.4% favor charter schools, while only 7.1% oppose them. The poll also showed strong support for charters in Saginaw/Flint/Bay City (52.3% to 26.6%) and Lansing/Mid-Michigan (54.8% to 31%).
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