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Poll: Gas tax ‘lockbox,’ term limits, independent redistricting draw big support

Likely voters in Illinois overwhelmingly support a proposed state constitutional amendment requiring gas taxes be spent only on road projects, according to a poll by Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

The survey also shows massive support for term limits and for having an independent commission draw legislative district lines instead of state lawmakers. The sample of 865 likely voters was taken Sept. 27-Oct. 2 and has a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points.

  • There are 80 percent of likely voters who support what’s been dubbed the “lockbox” amendment requiring that gas taxes, tolls and license fees be dedicated to roads, bridges and other transportation projects. Only 13 percent oppose it, and the rest are undecided.

Supporters argue state policy makers have sometimes shifted these dollars to non-transportation projects over the years, taking dollars from needed infrastructure projects.  Opponents contend leaders need to have flexibility in the way they manage state finances and meet all the priorities they face.

Support is strongest downstate, where 87 percent support the measure.  Seventy-eight percent support the measure in the Chicagoland suburbs and 73 percent in Chicago.

  • While term limits for legislators are not on the November ballot, they are on the hearts of voters.  There are over 80 percent who favor a constitutional amendment limiting the number of terms a state representative or state senator can serve.  There are 17 percent opposed.  Gov. Bruce Rauner is pressing lawmakers to act.
  • Recently, the state Supreme Court ruled that an amendment establishing an independent commission to draw legislative district lines was unconstitutional. However, 72 percent of likely voters support that idea, while 18 percent are opposed.

The Simon Institute has been polling on this question since 2010 and the support for redistricting reform this year is at a record high.

“The massive support for these three measures is evidence of just how upset Illinois voters are with the way things are done in Springfield,” David Yepsen, institute director, said.

Poll results are available here.

For more results, contact Yepsen at 618/453-4009 or John Jackson, institute visiting professor, at 618/453-4003.

The margin of error for the entire sample of 1,000 voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The margin of error for likely voters is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points. This means that if we conducted the survey 100 times, in 95 of those instances, the population proportion would be within plus or minus the reported margin for error for each subsample. For subsamples, the margin of error increases as the sample size goes down. The margin of error was not adjusted for design effects.

Live telephone interviews were conducted by Customer Research International of San Marcos, Texas using the random digit dialing method. The telephone sample was provided to Customer Research International by Scientific Telephone Samples. 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 60 percent of the sample. A Spanish language version of the questionnaire and a Spanish-speaking interviewer were made available.

Field work was conducted from Sept. 27 to Oct.  2. 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. The data were not weighted in any way. Crosstabs for the referenced questions will be on the institute’s polling website,

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative. AAPOR works to encourage objective survey standards for practice and disclosure. Membership in the Transparency Initiative reflects a pledge to practice transparency in reporting survey-based findings.

Simon Institute polling data are archived by four academic institutions for use by scholars and the public. The four open source data repositories are: the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (, the University of Michigan’s Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (, 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.