LINCOLN, Neb. – State senators, gerrymander at your own risk. A new poll commissioned by the ACLU of Nebraska shows cross-party, statewide consensus that Nebraskans want the state’s redistricting process to be transparent, nonpartisan and data driven. Results also show Nebraskans would be more likely to vote against state senators who disregard those values for partisan interests, even if it benefits their preferred political party.
The polling comes as state senators prepare for the once-in-a-decade task of redrawing state and congressional lines to reflect the latest census. The ACLU of Nebraska commissioned market research firm Benenson Strategy Group to learn likely voters’ attitudes on redistricting and gerrymandering, a term that describes the drawing of map lines to benefit a politician or party.
Among the highlights:
- 87% of respondents agreed “Nebraska has a long and proud tradition of nonpartisanship and fairness, and we need to uphold those values in the redistricting process.”
- 93% agreed “redistricting should be driven simply by census data, not by making deals that benefit a political party.”
- 94% agreed “the process of redistricting should be open and transparent.”
- When asked whether they’d vote for a state senator who focused on drawing district lines in a way that “gives your preferred political party more of an advantage” vs. “is nonpartisan and data-driven,” respondents overwhelmingly chose “nonpartisan and data-driven,” including 82% of Democrats, 88% of Independents, and 71% of Republicans.
- 79% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote against a state senator who pushed for gerrymandered political maps.
ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad said these results show Nebraskans want a process and results that protect the power of Nebraska voters, not a political fight that centers politicians or partisan interests:
“Nebraska voters are sending a clarion call to all state leaders that fair redistricting must be the essential ingredient for fair elections over the next decade. Nebraska voters clearly demand that redistricting should be data-driven and not party-driven, because this is about protecting the voice and power of all Nebraskans. Redistricting matters to each of us because voters should pick their politicians not the other way around. Nebraskans from across the political spectrum expect our state senators to rise to the occasion, set aside personal or political interests, honor our unique nonpartisan political culture, and do this right.”
Redistricting is the process that sets electoral districts that determine representation in local, state, and federal government election after the Census. Redistricting in Nebraska last took place in 2010 and will happen again in 2021. Gerrymandering refers to the manipulation of boundaries to predetermine the outcome of elections, hindering voters from voicing their interests through their votes and making politicians less likely to compromise or find consensus on key issues.
Partisan interests limited opportunities for meaningful public interaction and added secrecy to Nebraska’s 2010 redistricting process. Similar issues have led a growing number of states to adopt redistricting reforms. (AP: More states to use redistricting reforms after 2020 census).
The ACLU believes redistricting should take place with transparency and public participation in a fair way that accounts for the size of a district’s population and its racial and ethnic diversity. The civil rights organization supports redistricting reform that centers fairness, nonpartisanship, protection of the voting rights of communities of color, public participation and transparency.
About the Survey
Benenson Strategy Group, a market research firm that has Google, McDonald’s, and Southwest Airlines among its clients, surveyed 650 likely voters from Jan. 7 – 11. (Margin of sampling error ±3.8).