A new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows a growing likelihood that voters will oust one or more of the three Iowa Supreme Court justices on Tuesday’s ballot.
A third of likely Iowa voters say they will vote to retain Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit. Thirty-seven percent say they will vote to remove all three. Ten percent plan to retain some. The rest either don’t plan to vote on judicial retention or haven’t made up their minds. An effort to oust the justices grew out of opposition to the court’s unanimous 2009 opinion legalizing same-sex marriage.
The ouster of a Supreme Court justice would be a result unseen in Iowa history since the judge merit-selection and retention process was adopted in 1962.
Obviously the only poll that counts is on Tuesday… but this looks very promising… more details about the poll will be available on Sunday.
Polling the retention races is difficult because most pollsters don’t have experience polling this type of race. Not only is it difficult to phrase the question to ask people, but it is also difficult to know if people will actually turn the ballot over and even vote in these races.
The Register’s Iowa Poll shows that only 34 percent of plan to vote to retain all three the justices, while 37 percent plan to remove them. An additional 10 percent plan to retain some, but not others. Clear as mud right? Well, actually it is.
The poll also showed that 19 percent of those asked this question were either unsure or planned not to vote on the retention questions. Those people don’t matter, so forget about them. We should also put aside the 10 percent who say they will vote no on some, but yes to others. We will deal with them later.
Once you do that, the results are a bit easier to understand. Basically it means that 45.6 percent plan to oust the three Supreme Court Justices, while 41.9 percent will vote to retain them. Now we can look at the other 10 percent. The poll clearly shows that someone, most likely Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, is going to be voted out. What we will have wait and see is whether or not Justices Baker and Streit can get enough of that 10 percent to save their jobs.