A new survey by a bipartisan team of pollsters says Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of partisan gerrymandering, a centuries-old issue that the Supreme Court is slated to take up next month.
The poll released this week by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center (CLC) found 71 percent of voters oppose permitting politicians to draw election districts crafted to assure the election or defeat of one party’s candidates. Only 15 percent supported partisan manipulation of district lines.
Common Cause is among a broad-based collection of groups that have submitted amicus briefs to the Supreme Court calling on it to ban partisan gerrymandering. The justices are to hear arguments on Oct. 3 in Gill v. Whitford, a suit challenging congressional and state legislative district lines drawn by the Wisconsin legislature’s Republican majority and signed by Gov. Scott Walker.
The study was led by Democrat Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research Associates, and Republican Ashlee Rich Stephenson of WPA intelligence. Pollsters surveyed 1,000 likely voters for the 2018 general election from August 26-31.
The survey revealed that more than half of the interviewees - Democrats, independents, and Republicans - were unaware how both major parties manipulate district lines to their advantage. Those interviewed were almost evenly divided by party, with 38% calling themselves Democrats and 34% Republican. The balance, 23%, described themselves as independent. Though a majority of those interviewed did not recall specific gerrymandering incidents, there was strong bipartisan support for Supreme Court action that would set rules and limitations on partisan redistricting.
The survey also revealed that gerrymandering is an important issue for voters of all parties; respondents said they were significantly less likely to support a political candidate who supports gerrymandering. “Voters are deeply concerned about politicians manipulating voting maps to serve their own political advantage and are looking for a solution," Lake said.
The study confirmed how little the public knows about gerrymandering and its effects on voting outcomes. More than half of the respondents (55%) indicated that they had not heard of any recent incidents of gerrymandering.
Redistricting reform is a core issue for Common Cause. The organization was the driving force behind creation of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, a bipartisan group of citizens that is responsible for drawing congressional and legislative districts in the Golden State. The commission is considered a national model and has given California some of the nation’s most competitive election districts.
Issues: Voting and Elections