Poll: Michigan redistricting, voting option proposals maintain leads

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
Politicians who want to gerrymander typically pack lots of voters who support the opposing party into a single district while spreading their own likely voters among multiple districts.

Two ballot proposals to establish an independent redistricting commission and create new voting options such as no-reason absentee voting have maintained double-digit leads, according to new polling.

The redistricting plan, Proposal 2, received the support of 58.5 percent of 600 likely voters to 26.5 percent opposed, The Detroit News-WDIV survey found. TV poll of 600 likely voters. About 15 percent remain undecided in the poll with a margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

The proposal’s lead has grown since the Glengariff Group began measuring support in September. In early October, backing stood at 55 percent.

Proposal 2 would amend 11 separate sections of the Michigan Constitution to create a 13-member redistricting commission that includes four self-identified Democrats, four Republicans and five others who are “non-affiliated” or independent.

Every 10 years, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office would randomly select the commissioners from a pool of registered voters who submitted a publicly available application and were not disqualified by Republican or Democratic leaders in the House and Senate. The political party in power now draws the boundaries, which has been Republican officials during the past two decades.

The Oct. 25-27 poll reflects the growing public knowledge regarding gerrymandering in Michigan, said Katie Fahey, executive director for Voters Not Politicians.

As the group combats the “misinformation campaign” opposing the initiative, Fahey said she’s confident voters will agree that “voters should pick their politicians and not the other way around.”

But the opposition still has a fighting chance of defeating the plan, Glengariff pollster Richard Czuba said.

The proposal is the “classic Michigan ballot proposal,” Czuba said, because last-minute opposition could erode support despite strong support. 

"Of those who support the proposal, only 40 percent strongly support it, which could make all the difference at the ballot box," he said. The numbers raise a “big red flag” about the potential to turn those who “somewhat support” the proposal.

 “Proposal 2 is in a position to win, but I think this could end up being a close vote in the end because of late spending,” Czuba said.

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The ballot committee supporting the proposal has raised more than $13.8 million in the last three months, the majority from liberal and left-leaning advocacy groups. The opposition group has raised roughly $3.1 million, mostly from the conservative Michigan Freedom Fund.

As more people hear about the plan’s outside funding and the proposed commission’s uncapped budget, support for the initiative will drop, said Tony Daunt, who is leading the opposition committee and is executive director of the Freedom Fund.

“Now that there is a sustained and funded effort to push back against the misleading claims by supporters, I think you’ll see those numbers move significantly,” Daunt said.

Opposition ads have focused on questions about costs and the selection process for committee members.

“This is kind of the traditional model for defeating a constitutional amendment question,” Czuba said. “It’s death by a thousand cut questions.”

Support for Proposal 3, a plan that would expand voter options to include no-reason absentee voting, has slid from 72 percent support in early October to 69 percent support in the most recent poll. Roughly 22 percent of those surveyed oppose the proposal and about 10 percent remain undecided.

With strong support and only minor opposition, Proposal 3 “appears poised to pass,” Czuba said.

A television ad and small group discussions on the measure have helped voters to understand the “common sense reforms,” said Todd Cook, campaign director for the Promote the Vote ballot committee.

While the poll results are heartening, Cook said, “we’re going to work hard up until election day and not take anything for granted.”

Detroit News staff reporter Jonathan Oosting contributed .


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Proposal 2

An Oct. 25-27 poll of 600 likely Michigan voters on an independent redistricting commission ballot measure

Support 58.5%

Oppose 26.5%

Undecided 15%

Proposal 3

How surveyed voters feel about a ballot measure to create no-reason absentee voting as well as same-day voting registration:

Support 68.5%

Oppose 21.7%

Undecided 9.8% 

Note: Margin of error of plus-minus 4 percentage points.

Source: Glengariff Group