A recent Detroit Free Press/WXYZ poll claims Michigan voters are evenly split when it comes to support for Public Act 4, the state's emergency manager law. But a closer look shows support for the law comes largely from those whom it least affects.
The poll results, published Sunday, asked 600 likely voters whether they would vote to repeal Public Act 4 if the question were placed on the November ballot.
Opponents to the law have been gathering signatures in just such an effort to force a statewide referendum.
If successful, the petition drive would also freeze the law until the vote, placing the state's six current emergency managers in uncertain positions. Gov. Rick Snyder and Treasurer Andy Dillon have said they favor stopgap legislation that would allow the emergency managers in Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Flint, Pontiac, Detroit Public Schools and -- as of Friday -- Highland Park Schools, to continue their work.
The Free Press/WXYZ poll found 42 percent of respondents would vote to keep Public Act 4, and 45 percent would vote to reject it. Statewide, men were more likely to favor the emergency manager law than women (51 percent to 35 percent), and Republicans favored it much more heavily than Democrats (60 percent to 26 percent).
The poll sampled all Michigan voters, not those residents of the municipalities and school districts currently affected by the emergency manager law. Each of those communities are majority African-American, and the poll did show black people would vote to reject the law 65 percent to 23 percent.
The survey also asked respondents what they thought should be done to solve Detroit's fiscal crisis. Detroit is currently undergoing a state review of its finances, moving the city one step closer to the appointment of an emergency manager.
Less than one-third of respondents favored an emergency manager for the city, but half said the state should work with Mayor Dave Bing and Detroit City Council "to address the financial situation in Detroit," perhaps in the form of a consent agreement that would grant the mayor more control over some operations.
Detroit residents strongly oppose an emergency manager for their city. An earlier survey conducted Jan. 13-17 by Denno Research of Wayne County Democrats showed 75 percent of Detroiters disagreed with a state takeover, and 61 percent strongly disagreed. In Wayne County as a whole, 60 percent of Democrats opposed an emergency manager for Detroit. Three of Michigan's six municipal bodies under emergency management are in Wayne County: the city of Ecorse, Detroit Public Schools and Highland Park Schools.
Yet polls may be less likely to indicate voters' approval or disapproval of Public Act 4 than the results of the petition drive aimed at repealing it.
Both the Detroit and Flint City Councils in September unanimously passed resolutions in favor of putting the law up for a vote.
Members of Michigan Forward and Stand Up For Democracy, the group sponsoring the effort, say they have collected nearly 200,000 signatures in favor of a referendum on the law. They need just shy of 162,000 signatures certified by the state to allow Public Act 4 to come to a decisive, popular vote in November.