Poll on Judicial Retention – My Take

Triad Strategies and Susquehanna Polling released a very intersting poll on voter attitudes toward the November retention elections. Unfortunately, their analysis is all wrong.

They found 63% of voters said they will to consider the record of each judge before voting on retention. and conclude, “voters want to consider the whole candidate and his or her record and aren’t interested in being bulldozed into a protest vote on something that would have a drastic impact on the administration of justice in the state.”

Putting on my political scientist hat, I am much more surprised at the high numbers of respondents who will be protesting – 23% indicate they will be voting ‘no’ on all judges up for retention. Additionally, only 8% say they will be voting ‘yes’ on all judges. As I discussed here before, voters’ attitudes seem to have changed from defaulting to “yes” on retention elections (unless scandal or other factors came in) to defaulting to “no” unless a judge demonstrates they aren’t part of the problem.

Look at it from the perspective of a judge up for retention – 23% have said they are voting no, regardless of his/her record (with 8% voting yes). In order to win retention, a judge would have to win the voters who plan to “examine their overall record” by a 2:1 margin.

Some sources for those voters who are voting on a case-by-case basis:
Democracy Rising Judicial Survey
Pennsylvania Family Institute Voters’ Guide
PA League of Women’s Voters Voters’ Guide
Philadelphia Inquirer Survey