WASHINGTON — A new poll from Gallup finds most Americans don’t believe Washington D.C. should become a state.
The survey called 1,018 people across the United States in June of this year, and found 29 percent of people are in favor of statehood for the District, while 64 percent oppose it. Of those surveyed, eight percent did not have an opinion on the matter.
Gallup said their researchers conducted the poll June 19-30 ahead of the congressional hearings on a bill for D.C. statehood.
Every Democrat running for president in 2020 has come out in favor of making D.C. the nation’s 51st state, Politico reported. However, the research shows the rest of the country isn’t on board.
“People just don’t see the reason why D.C. should be a state,” Gallup senior editor Jeff Jones told Politico. “They’re comfortable with the status quo.”
The survey noted no major subgroups of Americans voice support for D.C. statehood, though left-leaning political groups are more likely to do so than right-leaning.
- Democrats – Favor: 39%, Oppose: 51%
- Independents – Favor: 30%, Oppose: 64%
- Republicans – Favor: 15%, Oppose: 78%
- Liberals – Favor: 40%, Oppose: 50%
- Moderates – Favor: 35%, Oppose: 50%
- Conservatives – Favor: 14%, Oppose: 78%
The survey asked “Would you favor or oppose making Washington D.C. a separate state?”
Here in the District, the majority of voters – 86 percent, according to the DC Statehood office -- appears to support statehood. In 2016, D.C. residents passed a referendum supporting statehood.
Researchers noted the regional differences, with residents living in the East (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and D.C.) were significantly more likely to support statehood for the District.
“… Those in the Eastern U.S. may be more familiar with the arguments for and against making D.C. a state than those living farther away from it,” Gallup said in a release.
The residents of Washington D.C. do not have representation in the House and Senate, as our elected officials are not allowed to vote. In 1801, when the District of Columbia became the seat of the federal government, Congress was given “exclusive” power to enact laws in D.C.
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D – DC) said she saw “good news” in the results of the Gallup poll.
“This poll is very valuable for two reasons. First, it shows that D.C. statehood, for the first time, has become a national issue. Second, it reinforces our view that the majority of Americans are still unaware that D.C. residents do not have equal representation in their own national government,” she said in a statement. “Importantly, the poll did not inform respondents that D.C. residents pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the nation and do not have representation. Yet every American agrees that taxation without representation, which led to the creation of our nation, is wrong.”
She argued Congress has “often acted to right historical wrongs” even before polls showed the American public was on board.
“For example, in 1961, Gallup found that only 22% of Americans approved of the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1963, Gallup found that only 23% of Americans approved of the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech,” she said in a statement. “Yet Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.”
Part of the opposition to D.C. statehood stems from the fact adding the District as a state would all but guarantee another democratic representative and two democratic senators.
Gallup noted it was at least partially due to that fact that a D.C. statehood proposal is unlikely to pass, unless there were a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the Senate and a democrat in the White House.
The first Congressional hearing for D.C. statehood (H.R. 51) was originally slated for July 24, but has been postponed due to the planned testimony of Robert Mueller before two House committees that day.
It will now likely happen in September, Norton said, and will be the first House hearing on D.C. statehood in 26 years.