The Real Economy

What Michigan means for the 2012 election

Jeremy Hobson Feb 24, 2012

Adriene Hill: My colleague Jeremy Hobson joins us now for more on Michigan. He’s been reporting from Michigan all week and joins us from Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. Good morning Jeremy.

Jeremy Hobson: Good morning.

Hill: So the primary is next Tuesday. What did you learn about how the economy is affecting the election?

Hobson: Well, it’s a very mixed picture here. We just spent time in two very different parts of the Detroit area — one very wealthy, one not wealthy at all — and people’s views of the economy are different.

But one of the people we talked to in Grosse Pointe, which is a fancy suburb — a guy named Fred Satterlund — he deals in auto parts supplies and so he was helped by the auto bailout a few years ago. And here’s what he had to say about that:

Fred Satterlund: Bailing out the car companies was a good thing. You can always argue about who got the short end of that deal and who got better off.

But the interesting thing, Adriene, is he’s not going to vote for President Obama. He plans to vote next Tuesday for Rick Santorum.

Hill: So Jeremy, it’s not just bailout politics there — how else is the economy affecting Michigan voters?

Hobson: We’ve been talking about a comeback that some are seeing in the auto industry; GM just reported some big profits. People are looking, they’re saying the auto companies, they’re back on their feet again. But the fact is, even as the unemployment rate here has dropped from a 14 percent peak down to about 9 percent, some look at that and say: that’s not because all those people have got jobs. It’s because many of them have left the state; they gone to other places — perhaps Texas — where they can get jobs.

And the other thing is, Adriene, I talked to you the other day about the fact that there’s a surplus right now in the state of Michigan, and that the governor is — even though he had made big cuts in education — is going to put some of that money back. Well, after that was on the radio we got a call from a local school official here in Michigan who said: well, that’s true, he’s putting some money back, but it’s not nearly as much as he took away.

So still many people starting from a much lower point than they were just five years ago in Michigan.

Hill: Fascinating. Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson, thanks.

Hobson: Thank you.

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