Del. Holmes Norton ‘Sees Good News’ In a Poll Finding a Majority Reject DC Statehood

July 17, 2019by Chris Cioffi
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton speaks at the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the Birth of Frederick Douglass, in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol, on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Zuma Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton “sees good news” in a new Gallup poll that found a majority of Americans reject D.C. statehood.

The Gallup poll, conducted in June and released Monday, found 64% of Americans oppose making Washington a separate state. It was released to coincide with a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Holmes Norton’s statehood bill, which has been postponed to accommodate testimony from Robert S. Mueller III.

“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,” Holmes Norton said in a statement.

She also pointed out that the poll did not inform respondents that D.C. residents pay the highest federal taxes per capita in the nation, and cited a 2005 KRC Research study that found 82% of respondents agreed D.C. should have equal voting rights in the House and Senate.

Monday’s Gallup study asked 1,018 adults living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, “Would you favor or oppose making Washington, D.C., a separate state?” a release from Gallup said.

The study found 29% of those polled favored D.C. statehood and 8% had no opinion.

Republicans have long opposed giving D.C. statehood status or the right to have voting representatives in Congress because it consistently votes heavily for Democrats.

Even so, the Gallup study found that only 39% of Democrats favor making D.C. the 51st state. In the District, 86% of D.C. voters said they wanted statehood in polls taken during the 2016 election.

The margin of sampling error for the June Gallup poll was plus or minus 4 percentage points, study authors said.

Earlier studies came to similar conclusions to Gallup’s, according to a release that accompanied the results. In a 1992 study, researchers found only 20% of those polled favored statehood. A 1989 Washington Post study found a slightly higher 32% of respondents favored statehood.

According to a Gallup spokesman, the group has polled for other places in the past, and found that there is more support for granting statehood to Puerto Rico, and there was majority support for Alaska and Hawaii before they became states.

Holmes Norton’s statehood bill — appropriately named HR 51 — has more than 200 cosponsors in the House, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi strongly endorsed the bill. No Republicans have signed on in support.

A lawsuit filed in federal district court in Washington last year offering a new legal theory for why voting rights should be granted has earned recent high-profile support from Pelosi and groups like the League of Women Voters.

The first House hearing on D.C. statehood in 26 years, originally scheduled for July 24, was postponed until September to accommodate the testimony of Robert S. Mueller III. The former special counsel was rescheduled to go before the House Judiciary Committee that day to accommodate questioning from more members.

Holmes Norton said holding the hearing still must happen, because it’s essential to passing her bill, and will give more information to Americans about why statehood is important to the District.

“This hearing will inform people of what most do not know — that the residents of their nation’s capital do not have full voting rights in the House and have no representation in the Senate,” she said in a statement. “We will use this postponement to nationalize our efforts, giving national attention to the disenfranchisement of D.C. residents and to continue to build support for the bill in the House, Senate and across the country.”

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