March 09, 2016

Poll: Illinois voters favor legislative redistricting changes

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Almost two-thirds of Illinois voters support having an independent commission draw legislative district lines in the state, according to a poll by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Sixty-four percent of voters surveyed supported the change while 25 percent opposed. The sample of 1,000 registered voters was from Feb. 15-20 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Supporters of a change argue the current system is gerrymandering because it allows state lawmakers to draw their own district lines and they argue it would be better for an independent group to do it. Supporters are circulating petitions to put a proposed redistricting change on the November ballot.

Opponents say the current system protects minority groups and that writing laws can’t be left to unelected people.

The poll also found support for another proposed change to the state’s redistricting system. Seventy-one percent of registered voters favored having the Illinois Supreme Court add a neutral tie-breaking vote to the redistricting panel created when lawmakers are deadlocked over drawing a plan. Only 19 percent oppose it; 10 percent are not sure.  

Favorability toward legislative redistricting changes is consistent across all demographic and political groups.

“Illinoisans are in a mood to change things,” David Yepsen, institute director, said. “In addition to redistricting changes, they also support restricting campaign contributions in judicial races and term limits for legislators.”

  • Seventy-two percent favored limits on campaign contributions. Voters were less supportive of providing public funding for judicial races (52 percent). Liberals are more likely to support judicial campaign finance reform than conservatives or moderates.
  • Of all of the restructuring proposals asked about in this Simon Poll, the widest support was for term limits on state legislators. Seventy-eight percent of the sample favored term limits while only 20 percent opposed the proposal and 3 percent didn’t know. Term limits were most popular among Republicans.
  • The poll also asked about support for right-to-work laws, one of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposals in his “turn-around agenda.” There are 61 percent of Illinois voters who said they would vote for this proposal or lean toward voting for it.

There were 33 percent who said they would oppose -- or lean toward opposing -- giving workers the right to opt out of labor union membership without risk to their job. Republicans are more favorable toward right-to-work laws, but a majority of Democrats also support Rauner’s proposal.

Poll results are available here

For more information, contact Yepsen at 618/453-4009 or John S. Jackson, a visiting professor at the institute, at 618/303-1240.

The margin of error for the entire sample of 1,000 voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. This means that if we conducted the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances, the result would be within plus or minus the reported margin for error for each subsample. 

Live telephone interviews were conducted by Customer Research International of San Marcos, Texas, using the random digit dialing method. Potential interviewees were screened based on whether they were registered voters and quotas based on area code and sex (<60 percent female). Interviewers asked to speak to the youngest registered voter at home at the time of the call. Cell phone interviews accounted for 40 percent of the sample. A Spanish language version of the questionnaire and a Spanish-speaking interviewer were made available.

Fieldwork was conducted from Feb. 15 through Feb. 20.  No auto-dial or “robo” polling is included.  Customer Research International reports no Illinois political clients. The survey was paid for with non-tax dollars from the Institute’s endowment fund. Crosstabs for the referenced questions will be on the Institute’s polling website,

Simon Institute polling data are also archived by three academic institutions for use by scholars and the public. The three open source data repositories are: the University of Michigan’s Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (OpenICPSR;, the University of North Carolina’s Odum Institute Dataverse Network (, and the Simon Institute Collection at OpenSIUC ( 

Note: The “Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Poll,” the “Simon Poll” and the “Southern Illinois Poll” are the copyrighted trademarks of the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. Use and publication of these polls is encouraged -- but only with credit to the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.