By Susan Demas
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Susan J. Demas, Inside Michigan Politics Publisher, 517-420-6779, email@example.com T.J. Bucholz, Lambert, Edwards & Associates, 517-316-0210, firstname.lastname@example.org
LANSING - The majority of Michigan voters say Gov. Rick Snyder has decreased funding for K-12 schools in the last three years, according to a new Inside Michigan Politics/Lambert, Edwards & Associates/Denno Research poll.
By an almost 3:1 margin -- 53.8% to 18% -- voters said that the Republican governor has cut spending. 24% were undecided.
Education funding has emerged as a battleground issue in the 2014 election, particularly the governor's race. While Democrats and likely gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer have argued that per-pupil spending has been cut over the last three years, Republicans and Snyder have countered that total spending on schools has ticked up.
Here is the question:
In the three years that Governor Rick Snyder has been in office, do you think he overall has increased or decreased spending for K-12 schools? (Respondents were given two options: Increased or Decreased).
"Over the past few months, Republicans and Democrats have been engaged in serious battle about education spending -- Republicans - led by Gov. Snyder -- argue that the total dollars going into K-12 schools have increased, while Dems believe the foundation allowance - or the money used to primarily fund classroom operations - has been cut," said T.J. Bucholz, senior director of public affairs for Lambert, Edwards & Associates. "The truth on this issue is that both sides are right. Opinion polls like ours, however, don't measure truth, but what people believe at a single point in time."
There is a big partisan divide, with 48.1% of Republicans saying the governor increased education funding and just 19.8% responding that he decreased spending. The numbers are virtually reversed for Democrats, with 23.1% saying Snyder increased school spending and 52% responding that he decreased spending. Independents were split, with 25% saying the governor increased spending and 23.2% saying he decreased funding, which is within the poll's margin of error.
And 69% of respondents who said Snyder has decreased education spending were ages 35 to 64, the age block in which people are most likely to have school-aged children.
"The issue comes down to whether people believe money is getting into the classroom. And this poll indicates parents of school-aged children don't believe Gov. Snyder's narrative that schools are seeing more money," said Susan J. Demas, editor and publisher of Inside Michigan Politics. "Republicans have clearly done their own polling on this issue and realize it's a weakness in the election. That's why they're looking to up education spending in this year's budget."
Lambert, Edwards & Associates, named the 2010 PRWeek Small Agency of the Year, is a top-10 Midwest-based PR firm and a top-20 investor relations firm nationally with clients based in 20 states and five countries. Denno Research polls for political campaigns, corporations, associations and non-profit organizations, and have worked with clients in Michigan, Indiana, New York, North Carolina and New Jersey. IMP is the most nationally-cited political newsletter in Michigan and was founded by Bill Ballenger in 1987.
The live-operator survey was of 600 likely Michigan voters was taken March 8 and 9. 20% of respondents were cell phone users. The margin of error is 4%. Crosstabs are available upon request.