POLL: Nearly Two-Thirds of Chula Vista Voters Want to Change the Way They Vote

Photo Credit: Roman Eugeniusz / Panoramio


In 2020, voters in the “red” state of Alaska passed a ballot measure that created a nonpartisan election system that advances four candidates to the general election ballot.

Four years later, Nevada voters are on the verge of winning a similar election change that would give voters more choice in the general election. Arizona, Massachusetts, and even voters in states like Idaho have credible efforts to create elections where voters can rank four or five candidates, instead of picking just one.

Now, head down to the south-San Diego city of Chula Vista, and voters are overwhelmingly saying, “give us more choice.”

A recent poll conducted by Competitive Edge research with funding by More Choice San Diego found that 62% of voters in Chula Vista -- if given the opportunity -- would support a measure that would advance five candidates to a general election that uses ranked ballots. Just 30% of voters are likely to oppose the measure, with the remaining voters undecided.

Notably, the poll found that the measure is supported by a majority of Democrats, independents, and even Republicans in the city of about 300,000 people. Overall, 86% of Chula Vista voters said it was at least somewhat important to give voters more candidate options, even if they didn’t support the proposed initiative.

A successful initiative effort in a city as large and diverse as Chula Vista could set a precedent for the entire state of California, which revolutionized the state elections process over 20 years ago when voters adopted a statewide “top-two” nonpartisan primary initiative.

Could California voters be ready to “reform the reform” by giving voters a chance to rank the “top five” candidates, instead of picking from one of the “top two”?

In Chula Vista, the poll suggests they certainly are.

Chula Vista, which has a large Latino population, is very different demographically from places like Alaska, Idaho, and Nevada, which makes the reform’s appeal all the more interesting.

At a fundamental level, most voters – regardless of political affiliation or background – agree with certain basic principles of democracy: 

Nearly all (9-in-10) respondents in the Chula Vista poll indicated that in at least one election they felt forced to pick between the “lesser of two evils” – a sentiment shared by voters nationwide who feel like they have to hold their noses when they cast their ballot. 

And though Chula Vista is located in a congressional district that heavily favors Democrats (D+18 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index), voters don’t have an overwhelmingly positive view of either party. In fact, even with the substantial Democratic registration advantage, the current mayor is a Republican. 

The recent poll may explain this anomaly: less than 20% of voters in Chula Vista had a “very positive” view of the Republican and Democratic Parties.

Nationally, voters want More Choice. Locally, voters want More Choice. The question is: Which city will be the stepping stone for the More Choice movement in California? Will it be Chula Vista?

Chula Vista voters seem to think so. 

Chula Vista
Image reference
Photo by Roman Eugeniusz on Panoramio. Creative commons license.