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Exclusive: Gallup Is Polling on DC Statehood

The nationwide poll is Gallup's first on whether DC should be the 51st state.
A supporter of DC statehood during Barack Obama's Second Inauguration. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)

Gallup is conducting its first-ever national poll on the issue of statehood for DC. The poll, which was placed in the field on June 19, surveyed 1,018 respondents from all fifty states and DC, according to Justin McCarthy, a spokesperson for Gallup. The results will become public on July 15.

“The effort to make Washington D.C. a state has received a boost this year from members of Congress, presidential candidates and private groups,” said Mohamed Younis, Gallup’s Editor-in-Chief. The new poll, he added, would help Gallup “meaningfully contribute to the conversation.”

Gallup also polled Americans on support for a second statehood effort, that of Puerto Rico. Younis noted that Gallup has a tradition of polling on the question of new states, including Alaska and Hawaii before their admission 1959. While Gallup has polled statehood for Puerto Rico, this will be the first time it has done so for DC.

Gallup’s decision to probe the question is another threshold on the DC statehood issue’s rise to prominence. Once an issue relegated to the political fringe, the cause has now been taken up by a majority of presidential candidates in the Democratic primary field. A recently formed coalition group, 51 for 51, will push for recognition of statehood as a Democratic campaign issue during the primary.

The issue may also benefit from the times. As the country’s partisan blood feud entered a new chapter in the Trump era, Democrats have increasingly viewed DC and Puerto Rican statehood—and the prospect of new Democratic senators serving in those heavily blue redoubts—as worthy causes that complement efforts to fight Republican gerrymandering and voter I.D. measures. Republican motivations are precisely the opposite. In 2016, then Republican presidential candidate John Kasich described the effort bluntly as “just more votes in the Democratic Party.”

Gallup’s results next Monday could lift the political fortunes of statehood to a new register—or, if the measure is unpopular, warn national Democrats to the issue’s potential political cost.

In either scenario, the political prospects of DC statehood will look dramatically clearer by next week. As Younis pointed out, Gallup has calculated the poll’s results with 95% confidence.

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Benjamin Wofford
Staff Writer

Benjamin Wofford is a staff writer at Washingtonian. He has been a contributing editor at Politico Magazine, and a regular contributor to the magazines Glamour, Vox and Rolling Stone. His work has been included in Longform, The Sunday Longread and The Atlantic’s annual “Exceptional Journalism” review.