More than half of all Utahns still support a November ballot initiative that would create a bi-partisan, independent commission to redraw U.S. House and legislative boundaries after each Census, a new UtahPolicy.com poll shows.
However, Republicans and conservatives are starting to figure out that such a commission would take GOP legislative gerrymandering out of the equation, and they are looking more closely at their inherent political advantage of keeping the Republican-controlled Legislature and GOP governor in the redistricting driver’s seat.
Back in May, Jones found that 49 percent of Republicans, nearly half, supported Better Boundaries – today it is only 41 percent.
Those 8 percentage points of Republicans have moved over to the “don’t know” category today, the poll shows.
It is an interesting tug of war among rank-and-file Republicans – which is reflected in the large “don’t know” numbers among that group, finds UtahPolicy.com pollster Dan Jones & Associates.
The new poll’s findings:
All Utahns support the Better Boundaries initiative, 52-18 percent.
But a high 30 percent – almost one third – of voters are still undecided on the measure.
In a May poll, Jones found that Utahns favored Better Boundaries, 55-20 percent, with 26 percent undecided.
The election is just over one month away, and we haven’t yet seen a substantial public debate on what could be a highly partisan issue.
Republican support has dropped well below 50 percent: 41 percent support the initiative, 24 percent oppose it, and 35 percent “don’t know.”
Democrats have figured out that the commission is a better way to take GOP gerrymandering out of the process of redrawing Utah’s four U.S. House districts, and all 104 legislative districts.
They support the initiative, 72- 7 percent, with 20 percent undecided.
Political independents, who don’t belong to any political party, support the initiative – known as Prop. 4 – 54-16 percent, with 29 percent undecided.
As you can see, the “don’t know” GOP voters’ 35 percent is a full 15 percentage points higher than the Democrats’ 20 percent “don’t know.”
It’s not that the Republicans are uneducated on the initiative, more likely it’s they are starting to realize that Better Boundaries would take away from their party the ability to gerrymander U.S. House and legislative seats to the clear benefit of their party.
It is possible – maybe even likely – that an independent redistricting commission would keep Salt Lake City and nearby Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County areas together in one U.S. House seat, making it probable that Utah’s current all-Republican U.S. House delegation could have one Democrat in it.
The political/moral battle: Should I vote for what is better overall for citizens – the independent commission – or what is better for my political party?
That could well be the question for GOP voters.
The “don’t know” wavering is seen, again, in the political philosophy break-outs:
The “very conservative” folks barely favor Better Boundaries, 32-27 percent with a high 40 percent “don’t know.”
As political moderation moves more to the left, watch the drop in “don’t knows.”
“Somewhat conservatives” favor the initiative, 48-20 percent, with 32 percent “don’t know.”
“Moderates” favor the initiative, 61-15 percent, with 25 percent “don’t know.”
The “somewhat liberal” folks like Better Boundaries, 68-14 percent, with 18 percent “don’t know.”
And those who told Jones they are “very liberal” politically favor it, 78-4 percent with 18 percent “don’t know.”
Why would 40 percent of the “very conservative” voters still be pondering – undecided – on Better Boundaries, when only 18 percent of liberals have not made up their minds on an independent redistricting commission?
Nov. 6 will let us see if Utah Republicans – and voters as a whole – place Utah in the growing ranks of states that have effectively dumped the old legislative partisan, gerrymandering redistricting process for an independent process that restricts the ability of legislators to pick their voters, instead of the other way around.
Jones polled 809 adult voters from Aug. 22 to Aug. 31. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.