Written by: Bob Bernick, Contributing Editor
If the Utah Legislature, controlled by Republicans, and GOP. Gov. Gary Herbert repeal or change Prop 4 – the independent redistricting commission approved by voters in November – they will be going against, by far, what a majority of Utahns want, a new poll by UtahPolicy.com shows.
It’s true Prop 4 barely passed, 50.34 percent in favor to 49.66 against.
But since that time Utahns seem to have grown to like it more. The new survey by Dan Jones & Associates finds that 55 percent say the Legislature SHOULD NOT repeal or change Prop 4.
Only 34 percent, or one-third, believe lawmakers and Herbert should mess with it while 10 percent don’t know.
The majority Republicans in the Legislature may be influenced by how their own party members feel about Prop 4 – since it, in effect, stops gerrymandering in favor of GOP candidates and incumbents in U.S. House and legislative districts.
But GOP lawmakers would be wrong about that:
48 percent of Republicans say don’t change or repeal Prop 4.
40 percent of Republicans give their party legislators the green light to mess with the new law.
While 13 percent don’t know.
Of course, Democrats and political independents want to do away with the Republican gerrymandering – where party loyalist legislators every 10 years draw lines to benefit their own party incumbents – even themselves.
Democrats tell the Republican Legislature to leave Prop 4 alone, 66-26 percent.
Independents tell the Legislature to keep their political hands off of Prop 4, 65-28 percent.
If you take all of the votes for GOP legislative candidates in the state and compare those to all of the votes cast for Democratic legislative candidates – then compare that to who actually holds the 75 state House and 29 state Senate districts – you get a feel for how gerrymandering actually affects who gets to sit in the Legislature.
And you see that Republican lawmakers hold a few percentage points more of the legislative seats than their vote totals statewide would indicate they should.
But if you look at the same numbers for Utah’s four U.S. House seats, you see how gerrymandering really harms Democratic candidates there.
Up until the 2018 elections, Republicans held all four U.S. House seats. But in a narrow victory last November, Democrat Ben McAdams unseated Republican Mia Love in the 4th District – and so now Republicans hold three U.S. House seats, Democrats one.
But even those who told DJA that they are “very” or “somewhat” conservative in their politics still don’t want the Republican Legislature to mess with Prop 4:
47 percent of “very conservative” Utahns want Prop 4 to stay unchanged, 39 percent say the Legislature should change it.
50 percent of “somewhat conservatives” say keep it, 41 percent say change it.
“Moderates” say keep it unchanged, 56-32 percent.
“Somewhat liberals” say keep it, 69-28 percent.
And “very liberal” Utahns say don’t change it, 81-9 percent.
And here are some interesting numbers.
Older Utahns, who have lived through at least two legislative redistricting cycles by a Republican-controlled Legislatures, feel the most strongly about stopping gerrymandering:
Those who are 45-54 years old said don’t change Prop 4, 65-27 percent.
Those 55-64 tell the Legislature to keep your mitts off Prop 4, 61-34 percent.
And those over 65 years old or older say don’t change or repeal the independent redistricting commission law, 57-37 percent.
Still, chances are Herbert and Republican lawmakers will do something to Prop 4, for already they are talking about how it violates the Utah Constitution – although the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld other states independent redistricting commissions.
DJA polled 882 voters from Jan. 3-15. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent.