- 64% oppose, 29% favor making Washington, D.C., a separate state
- Americans have typically been opposed
- Democrats, liberals more likely to favor, but still below a majority
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are much more likely to oppose (64%) than to favor (29%) making Washington, D.C., a separate state. These results are consistent with past polling on the topic by other firms, which also found majorities opposed to the idea.
|2019 Jun 19-30||29||64||8|
|1992 Oct 20-22^||20||57||24|
|^WORDING: Do you favor or oppose making Washington, D.C., a separate state?; ^^WORDING: As you may know, some people say Washington, D.C., should be a state. Do you favor or oppose making Washington, D.C., a state?|
The latest results are based on a June 19-30, 2019, Gallup poll, conducted in advance of congressional hearings on a bill to make Washington, D.C., a state. Although the Constitution does afford Washington, D.C., electoral votes in presidential elections, the district does not have a voting member in the House or Senate. Moreover, Congress has the ability to review and to block any policies passed by the Washington, D.C., mayor and city council.
A 1978 proposed constitutional amendment to grant Washington, D.C., voting representation in Congress failed, and in 1993 the U.S. House of Representatives voted against legislation to make the nation's capital a state. In 2016, D.C. residents approved an advisory referendum supporting statehood. Earlier this year, the House included a nonbinding endorsement of statehood for D.C. among various good-governance proposals. A separate bill proposed by Washington Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton to grant the district statehood will be taken up by a House committee later this year. Even if successful in the House, the bill has little chance of being considered by the Republican-led Senate.
No major subgroups of Americans voice support for D.C. statehood. However, support is higher among left-leaning political groups than right-leaning ones. Self-described liberals (40%) and Democrats (39%) are among the groups showing higher support. Republicans (15%) and conservatives (14%) are among the subgroups least supportive. Thirty percent of independents approve of making D.C. a separate state.
|Gallup, June 19-30, 2019|
Given Washington's strong Democratic leanings, making it the 51st state would almost certainly add one voting Democrat to the House and two to the Senate, and that likelihood may underpin Republicans' reluctance to make it a state.
There were modest party differences in 1992, when 24% of Democrats and 16% of Republicans favored making Washington a state, according to the Yankelovich survey.
Standard survey samples of 1,000 U.S. adults do not include enough interviews with D.C. residents to reliably measure their opinions on D.C. statehood. However, on a regional basis, support is highest in the East, which includes D.C. and the neighboring state of Maryland. Thirty-eight percent of Eastern residents endorse making D.C. a state, compared with no more than 28% in the other major U.S. regions. In addition to the East including D.C. and Maryland, 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.
|Regional definitions are as follows: East (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE, WV, DC); Midwest (OH, MI, IN, IL, WI, MN, IA, MO, ND, SD, NE, KS); South (VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, KY, TN, AL, MS, AR, LA, OK, TX); West (MT, AZ, CO, ID, WY, UT, NV, NM, CA, OR, WA, HI, AK)|
|Gallup, June 19-30, 2019|
Higher support for making Washington, D.C., a state among Eastern residents does not appear to merely be a function of the region's Democratic leanings. The data suggest that Democrats and Republicans in the East are more supportive of D.C. statehood than are Democrats and Republicans in other regions.
Although D.C. residents want their city to become the 51st state, their fellow Americans disagree. In fact, Americans have consistently opposed D.C. statehood in polling over the past three decades. The issue has become politicized, given that adding D.C. as a state would practically guarantee increased Democratic representation in Congress. As such, 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 Democratic president.
Some of the Democratic presidential candidates have signed on to a "51 for 51" campaign calling for the Senate to modify filibuster rules on D.C. statehood legislation. As the Senate did on votes to confirm federal judges, the Senate could modify its rules to end the debate on a D.C. statehood bill with a simple majority vote rather than requiring the traditional 60 votes. But even if that campaign succeeds, ultimate passage would still likely require Democratic control of the federal government -- something that could not happen until after the 2020 election at the earliest -- as it is unlikely that enough Republican senators would vote in favor of making Washington, D.C., its own state.
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Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article referred to the 1978 amendment as granting Washington, D.C., full statehood rather than voting rights equivalent to the existing states.