New poll shows public strongly favors independent commission on redistricting

January 11, 2011

BOSTON— Nearly two thirds of Massachusetts residents are not in favor of the current process on redistricting, according to a MassINC poll released today.  Sixty-two percent of Massachusetts residents favor the establishment of an independent commission to decide how Congressional and Legislative districts will be redrawn, compared to just 23 percent who favor leaving authority with the State Legislature, according to the survey conducted by The MassINC Polling Group. In the statewide survey, conducted January 5-8, respondents identified 1) keeping communities together, and 2) significant public input as the highest priorities among eight factors to consider in redistricting. 



The MassINC Polling Group (MPG) gathered the information as part of its quarterly omnibus poll.  While the omnibus is used by MPG clients to gauge opinion in a number of areas, the think tank MassINC regularly commissions MPG to tap into citizens�� attitudes on public policy issues that are particularly timely or pressing. 



“We felt it was important to get a read on how constituents feel about who should be in charge of the redistricting process,” said Greg Torres, President of MassINC and Publisher of CommonWealth Magazine.  “Redistricting will be important in the year ahead, and we wanted to take the public’s temperature on it to inform the process.”



Responsibility for the redistricting process currently rests with the Massachusetts State Legislature.  New Census numbers released last month determined that Massachusetts would lose one congressional seat, increasing the impact of this year’s redistricting process.  The redistricting process will result in new boundaries for both Congressional and State Legislative districts. 



“What these numbers tell us is that citizens want a say in how districts are formed, and by extension, a say over who represents them,” said Steve Koczela, President of the MassINC Polling Group. “With the Legislature in the driver’s seat, people are concerned this may not be the outcome.”



Koczela also noted that, while the results clearly point away from legislators managing the redistricting process, most saw some role for the State Legislature in the redistricting plan.  One in four (24 percent) said the legislature should have direct involvement; while 36 percent believed they should have indirect involvement.  About one in three (32 percent) thought the legislature should have no involvement at all. 



In additional questions, people were asked to rank the importance of the factors which could be used to decide the size and shape of the districts.  Of these, the two rated most important were:



1.      “Cities, towns, and neighborhoods should be kept together in the same district” (86% say important)

2.      “The public should have significant input over how the new districts are drawn” (76% say important)



The two factors rated as least important factors were:



1.      “Current congressmen and legislators should not have to face each other in future elections” (42% say important)

2.      “Racial and ethnic minority neighborhoods should be grouped together” (32% say important)



About the poll - The MPG quarterly omnibus surveys 400 adults across Massachusetts using live telephone interviews conducted via both landline and cell phone.  Interviews are conducted in both English and Spanish.  The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.9 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.



About The MassINC Polling Group - The MassINC Polling Group is an independent, non-partisan polling firm providing public opinion research and analysis to public and private sector clients. MPG is a full service opinion polling operation offering strategic consultation, a wide-ranging suite of analytical products, and high-level communication and outreach planning.  MassINC Polling Group is a subsidiary of MassINC, a nonpartisan think tank.  For more information, visit www.massincpolling.com.



About MassINC - The Massachusetts Institute for the New Commonwealth (MassINC) is an independent think tank and publisher of CommonWealth magazine. MassINC’s mission is to stimulate nonpartisan debate, shape public policy and advance a public agenda that supports the growth of the middle class. MassINC’s impact is achieved through independent research, journalism and civic forums that promote: jobs and economic security; sustainable communities; and government accountability.





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