For Immediate Release

Contact: Selma Tucker, Director of Marketing and Communications
Public Sector Consultants
(517) 484-4954

Poll: Voters open to redistricting change

In the latest installment of the PSC-Michigan Radio Michigan’s Pulse quarterly poll from August 4–8, 2015, PSC asked 600 likely voters about redistricting and potential legalization of marijuana. There is strong majority support for overhauling the current redistricting process, but there is clearly a need to educate voters on this issue. There is also majority support for recreational marijuana.

Redistricting

Redistricting is fine the way it is. I think. To begin, we asked poll respondents how they felt about the current system of redistricting, which creates the boundaries for Michigan’s legislative and congressional districts. Currently, the districts are drawn by the Michigan Legislature (subject to the federal Voting Rights Act) and the state’s own Supreme Court–approved standards for redistricting, then approved by the governor. Michiganders support the current system, but this is far from a mandate.

  • About half (47 percent) said they were either very satisfied (7 percent) or somewhat satisfied (40 percent).
  • About a third (37 percent) said they were either very unsatisfied (21 percent) or somewhat unsatisfied (16 percent).
  • Even more telling, another 15 percent said they didn’t know or were unsure, indicating that there is a fair amount of uncertainty among the electorate on this issue.

Redistricting is too political. Next, we presented an issue associated with redistricting: gerrymandering. This is a common criticism — that the party in power in the Legislature is able to draw the districts to ensure that their party is favored by the majority of voters in a district. When asked if redistricting was too political, about two-thirds (67 percent) said yes, while 21 percent said it was okay the way it is. Again, there was double-digit uncertainty, with 12 percent saying they didn’t know or were unsure.

An independent commission sounds like a good idea. Finally, we presented the option of having redistricting in Michigan completed by an independent commission, which typically includes Republican, Democrat and independent commissioners. This idea was favored by a strong majority (63 percent), with 20 percent opposing the idea. Again, 17 percent indicated that they didn’t know or were unsure.

Recreational Marijuana

Are voters willing to legalize recreational marijuana? More possible than not. We presented Michigan’s likely voters with a choice between existing potential ballot proposals that seek to legalize recreational marijuana or to not legalize recreational marijuana essentially maintaining current law. The results indicate that this is not a slam dunk, but likely will get passed in some form, eventually. The most frequent response was recreational marijuana use should not be legalized in Michigan (40 percent), but a majority (56 percent) of voters favored recreational legalization in one form or another, with a clear preference toward state control and taxation in some form:

  • 27 percent think the State of Michigan should tax and control its production and distribution, but allow for local and home-growing operations.
  • 21 percent think the State of Michigan should tax and control its production and distribution, with only a limited number of state-approved growers permitted.
  • 8 percent think the State of Michigan should NOT tax or control its production and distribution- rather, local governments should make decisions on production, taxation and distribution.

Closing Thoughts

While having generally favorable opinions about the current redistricting process, Michigan voters clearly support the idea of an independent commission doing this work in the future. At the same time, the considerable amount of uncertainty on these issues (12–17 percent) shows a need to educate and inform the public on this issue.

It has been said that a house divided will surely fall — even one made of hemp. Despite majority support, given multiple ballot choices and competing messages, it is not likely that any of the options for legalizing recreational marijuana use will be approved by a majority of voters.

About the Survey

Michigan Radio, an NPR News Station and the state’s most listened-to public radio service, and Public Sector Consultants (PSC), the state’s premier nonpartisan think tank, are partnering on a yearlong initiative studying Michiganders’ attitudes toward policy issues affecting their lives in a series called Michigan’s Pulse. Michigan’s Pulse will release quarterly in weeklong segments on Michigan Radio’s Stateside with Cynthia Canty with in-depth analysis by PSC researchers and other thought leaders.

The Michigan Radio/PSC survey of the Michigan electorate was conducted by Lansing-based Denno Research. Six-hundred respondents in the state of Michigan were surveyed from August 4 to 8, 2015, with a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percent. A screen was employed to include only those participants who said they would vote, either at the polls or by absentee ballot, in the November 2016 general election.

Full survey results are available here.

Public Sector Consultants is Michigan’s most respected, connected, and dedicated research and program management firm, with specialties in governance and regulation, health care, education, energy, and environmental policy. PSC is committed to providing objective research and sound solutions to the public and private sector.

Michigan Radio is an NPR News Station, and the state’s most listened-to public radio service, attracting more than 500,000 listeners each week across Michigan. Licensed to the University of Michigan, Michigan Radio broadcasts at 91.7 FM in southeastern Michigan, 91.1 FM in Flint, and 104.1 in western Michigan, and is available online at michiganradio.org.

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