News & Politics

DC Statehood Gets Increasing Support from Democrats

A new poll also finds a major shift among young and Black voters.

A new poll shows that support for DC statehood has increased nationwide, according to Data for Progress and YouGov Blue. Out of a sample of 1,025 voters, the report found that 43 percent support statehood, up from 35 percent in 2019. The biggest change? Democrats.

The issue of statehood has long been seen as a decision that would directly benefit the Democratic party: DC votes blue pretty consistently, so it’s not a leap to say that if the District were to elect Congressional representatives, they would likely be Democrats.

When Data for Progress and YouGov Blue initially polled voters on statehood in January 2019, the survey asked: “Would you support or oppose granting statehood, including full representation in Congress, to Washington, DC, currently a Federal District?” Democratic support came in at 47 percent, with 43 percent saying they were either neutral or undecided.

In the follow-up poll released on Tuesday, Democrats accounted for the most significant increase across the board, with now approximately 69 percent saying they would support DC statehood efforts. These numbers reflect the potential for DC statehood to become more of a core issue on the Democratic platform, especially after the presidential primary race in which every single Democratic candidate expressed support for statehood.

Despite DC’s very public attempts to revisit statehood, it has not received much support outside of the region. “Americans have consistently opposed D.C. statehood in polling over the past three decades,” wrote Gallup senior editor Jeffrey Jones last year. In his research published in July 2019, Jones found that 64 percent of Americans rejected DC statehood. Reasoning might not solely have to do with bipartisanship, either: Jones has also suggested that antipathy toward the federal government might affect how Americans view statehood as well.

“Certainly, people aren’t very positive about the federal government, so it’s possible some of that rains down on DC’s population and local government,” Jones told Politico in 2019. (Voters in DC overwhelmingly support statehood, though I probably don’t have to tell that to the readers who sport the centuries-old slogan “no taxation without representation” on their license plates.)

The Data for Progress and YouGov Blue poll shows that more voters around the country are warming up to the idea of DC as a 51st state. Independent voters’ support rose about 3 percent. The poll this week also included a demographic breakdown that shows that while the number of white voters and older voters in support of statehood has increased a bit, there was a major shift among young voters and Black voters.

For young voters, the number in support increased by 18 percentage points; Black voter support increased by 29 percent. On the other hand, Republican voters generally oppose statehood, so their already low number of supporters—32 percent in 2019—decreased by 2 percent in this 2020 survey. Overall, Data for Progress sees the 2020 survey’s results as a sign that “statehood’s time has come.”

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.