A majority of Americans oppose making the District of Columbia the 51st state, according to a new poll released Monday.
The Gallup poll found a clear majority of 64 percent don’t think the nation’s capital should attain statehood, compared to 29 percent who support the idea.
The poll comes as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington’s nonvoting delegate in the House, and city officials have been trying to build national support for statehood, framing it as a civil rights issue and arguing that the city’s 700,000 residents are disenfranchised because they lack voting representation in Congress.
Norton has garnered a record number of co-sponsors, over 200, for legislation that converts most of the city into a state. A Senate version of the bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., has 33 co-sponsors.
The House Oversight Committee was set to hold a hearing on July 24 on statehood for the District of Columbia – the first on the issue in a quarter century – but Norton said Saturday it will be postponed until the fall, so as not to conflict with congressional testimony on the same day from former special counsel Robert Mueller.
With Democrats in control of the House, statehood has had something of a moment, despite its lack of support in the GOP- controlled Senate.
The House passed a sweeping package of goals and values, including statehood, marking the first time in a generation that House leadership endorsed the issue.
At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a lengthy statement in support of the cause and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., followed suit.
Many candidates vying for the 2020 presidential nomination, including members of Congress, say they support statehood, too.
Gallup polled 1,018 adults in all 50 states and Washington from June 19 to 30 on cellphones and landlines. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The results of Gallup’s single question on statehood are in line with a 2006 Washington Post poll. That survey found 58 percent were opposed and 22 percent favored the idea, while 18 percent had no opinion.
However, when asked about specific rights that statehood would extend to District of Columbia residents, Americans appear more amenable.
In 2007, a Post poll found 61 percent of Americans supported giving Washington a voting delegate, meaning a member of Congress who would have the same voting rights as their fellow lawmakers. Norton has a floor vote only when Democrats control the House, but she’s stripped of the right in instances when her vote could decide the outcome.
Roughly 6in 10 Americans across the political spectrum supported full voting rights for Washngton, the 2007 poll found.
Support for statehood is much higher among city residents, according to a 2015 Washington Post poll.
That survey found 67 percent of Washington residents favored the District of Columbia becoming a separate state, up from 56 percent in 2010 and the highest in Post polling since 1993.
The same poll found 74 percent saying they are upset that District residents do not have a voting representative in Congress; about half were very upset about it.
A 71 percent majority said Congress has too much control over the city’s affairs.
Congress has the final say over laws passed by the D.C. Council and the mayor, setting up frequent showdowns between local elected officials and members of Congress.
The city’s liberal lawmakers say conservative federal lawmakers have used the District of Columbia to fight proxy battles over issues such as abortion for low-income women, legal marijuana and assisted suicide.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Jenna Portnoy, Scott Clement