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A Vote For the District?

Nearly six in 10 Americans support legislation now under consideration in the Senate giving Washington, D.C. a full voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. About a third of adults nationwide oppose the idea.

The Senate is expected to hold a cloture vote on the measure today, while the House Judiciary Committee is likely to vote this week to send the bill on to the full body for a vote.

Though the bill aims to be party neutral, granting one seat to deeply Democratic Washington and another to fast-growing, conservative Utah, support for granting District residents a voting member of Congress splits along party lines. Support for the plan peaks among Democrats, with 67 percent backing the measure. Among independents, 58 percent are supportive, as are half of all Republicans polled. Even among conservative Republicans a sizable minority (46 percent) back the measure.

Overall support is about on par with what it was in a Post-ABC poll conducted in April 2007, when 61 percent supported the measure, but as awareness of the plan has risen (11 percent had no opinion then, 7 percent do so now), opposition to the plan has also climbed (28 percent opposed it then, 35 percent do now). Opposition rose nine points among Republicans, from 32 percent to 41 percent, among independents it climbed six points.

Seniors are less apt than others to favor adding a House vote for Washington, with 49 percent in favor and 38 percent opposed. Two-thirds (66 percent) of those under age 30 support a vote for D.C., as do 58 percent of those aged 30 to 64. Men and women diverge on the issue, with 64 percent of women in favor of giving D.C. voting rights, compared with 53 percent of men. Some, but not all, of this difference is accounted for by party identification.

Regionally, residents of the Northeast (63 percent) and Midwest (61 percent) express the most support for the plan. In the West (57 percent) and South (55 percent) support lags somewhat. Closer to home, 74 percent of those polled in the District and nearby states (DE, DC, MD, VA, WV, PA) said they favor a vote for nation's capital.

This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted Feb. 19-22 among a random national sample of 1,001 adults including both landline and cell phone-only respondents. Results for the full poll have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.

Q. On another subject, as you may know, Washington, D.C. has a delegate in Congress, but that person is not allowed to vote on laws. Would you support or oppose new legislation giving D.C. a full voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives?

              Support   Oppose   No opin.
All             58        35        7

Men             53        42        5
Women           64        28        8

18-29           66        27        7
30-64           58        37        5
65+             49        38       14

White           55        37        8
Non-white       67        29        4

Non-college     58        35        8
College grad    60        35        5

Democrat        67        26        6
Republican      50        41        9
Independent     58        36        5

Liberal         65        27        8
Moderate        60        35        5
Conservative    53        40        7

Lib. Democrat   73        22        5
Conserv. GOP    46        45        9

East            63        29        8
Midwest         61        35        4
South           55        38        7
West            57        33        9

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  February 24, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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I agree that the citizens of DC don't have a voting representative currently . . .and from one standpoint that doesn't seem right since they do pay federal income taxes.

However . . .it seems pretty obvious from Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution that only states get representatives in the House and the District is clearly not a state. There is an approved constitutional process by which the District can be granted voting rights in Congress . . .I fail to understand how anyone in Congress or the White House who took an oath to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" can in good conscience vote for or sign this legislation. Either DC needs to be granted statehood (with all the rights and duties thereof . . .which would result in loss of considerable portions of their budget) . . .or there needs to be an amendment authorizing this. A simple vote of Congress and signature by the President doesn't override the words in the Constitution.

The simple truth is that the Democratic majority is pandering to one of their core constituencies and daring SCOTUS to toss out the law. The fact that they're getting another guaranteed Democratic vote at no expense is just icing on the cake (and yes, I'm aware of the supposed extra vote the Utah will be getting . . .but they'll get that anyway after the next census so the Republican side gains nothing by this).

This becoming law would be a travesty and will be challenged in court before the ink is dry.

Posted by: neill1 | February 24, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

The voting rights of the remaining portion of the District of Columbia should be restored through retrocession of the District back to the state of Maryland. That is precisely how the Virginia portion of the District had their voting rights restored in 1847. It worked then, and it can work now. The District should be restricted to the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court. Everything else should revert to Maryland, from whence it came.

Posted by: provero | February 24, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

It is Article 1 Section 2 of the US Constitution for those interested.

Posted by: jmesser | February 24, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

As I read it, Article 2 Section 1 is about choosing presidential electors. As D.C. already does that despite not having voting representatives in Congress, I fail to see how this section can be used to deny voting representation in Congress. We can quibble about what the Founding Fathers meant and what assumptions they may have had when they wrote that section, but I highly doubt they intended to leave tax-paying citizens disenfranchised. A constitutional amendment would be ideal, I agree, but experience shows that there are those who would block it for blatantly partisan reasons. The denial to DC residents of full voting representation in Congress is a national embarrassment.

Posted by: va2bkk | February 24, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, you're right, it is Article 1 Section 2. But even in that section, it says that the only people not considered at all when apportioning representation are "Indians NOT TAXED." The Founding Fathers did not want to leave taxpayers unrepresented.

Posted by: va2bkk | February 24, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I agree with provero, but they can keep SE and NE as well (aside from the DC's Takoma). We'll gladly take SW and NW though

Latin inscription on Georgetown's seal: "Collegium Georgiopolitanum Ad Ripas Potomaci in Marylandia"

In English: "on the banks of the Potomac in Maryland"

Posted by: terp4life1 | February 24, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: nivla | February 24, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I agree va2bkk with your assessment that the Founding Fathers wouldn't want taxation without representation, and I agree whole-heartedly with the attempt to fix the current travesty, but a solution to an unconstitutional situation is not and should never be to vote in another unconstitutional law (giving a vote to people who are not allowed one by the Constitution as they are not a state)... there are other ways to resolve this, such as ceding the land back, or even not taxing them (horrors).

Posted by: jmesser | February 24, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

While this fix is cosmetically nice, it doesn't address the greater issue of the Senate, where 25 states with only 16% of the population have a veto over any national change (because of the 3/5 cloture rule). Those 25 states are basically the "red" states and they have concocted a horribly corrupt transfer of wealth to that 16% of the country through distortive legislation like the multi-billion dollar farm bill.

A better solution would be to have the District join with Fairfax, Alexandria, Falls Church, Arlington and Fairfax City to form the 51st state. This would give both House and Senate representation to the District and it would also solve the problem that Northern Virginia has of the Commonwealth robbing it annually to subsidize programs in other parts of the Commonwealth. The overwhelming Republican population balances the Democratic majority in the District and solves the political balance issue. But Republicans won't want this because it weakens their strangling hold on the Senate at a time when they are already near losing it.

I oppose the solution on the table because it isn't a real solution. It's a "shut-your-mouth" and go away solution.

Posted by: hradvocate | February 24, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I agree with jmesser--if the *courts* decide giving D.C. a vote is unconstitutional, then remove the unconstitutional requirement that we (D.C. residents) pay federal taxes. Hell, we can use that money to pave roads, improve our police equipment, our schools, libraries, etc. Oh, and then, let's add a toll to use our roads, parking lots, etc. for all of the "staties" from Md. and Va. who come into the District everyday and then get to go home and VOTE.

Posted by: tinalav11 | February 24, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

If the District becomes a state, then the current Military District of Washington and its attendant security mandates will conflict with the rights and duties of the state of DC. Congress will not be able to run the place, and REAL DC home rule would appear. The Federal contribution to the budget would not disappear any more than the Federal compensation for the use of the land and facilities of other states has ever disapppeared.

Posted by: angusgoodson | February 24, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

It galls me that we have to give Utah a vote, essentially cancelling out our voice in the House. This shouldn't be a partisan issue, though Republicans have made it one (as per usual). We need two senators and one congressman with no quid-pro-quo, period. The fact that this is an overwhelmingly left-leaning jurisdiction should have nothing to do with the crafting of this law.

Posted by: downtowntb | February 24, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

It's not really constitutional, but we've been making a mockery of the Constitution for decades now, what's one more blatant disregard?

Posted by: cocyach | February 24, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

If DC gets a rep in the House, why should it not get 2 Senators as well? There are more people in DC than in Wyoming. IMO, the residential portions of DC should revert back to Maryland, and the additional population should be included in a new Congressional district. This will give the people representation without adding 2 Senators.

Posted by: kamdog | February 24, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Make the district a state, and give it House and Senate membership, or fold it back into Maryland and give it House and Senate membership by way of the Maryland delegation.

Posted by: hiberniantears | February 24, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Those citing the Constitution should also keep in mind Article 1, section 8, which gives Congress the power to legislate how it sees fit for the District.

In other words, Congress can give DC a vote if it wants to.

It really just comes down to how you follow the Constitution.

Posted by: thinman1 | February 24, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

As Eric Holder said, we are a nation of cowards. Why are all these convoluted schemes being devised to grant the over 550,000 people here a single vote in the House of Representatives? One major reason is that statehood would make DC (or "New Columbia" as our statehood constitutional convention named us in 1982) the first majority African American state! Look at the racial history of the oppression under which we have suffered. We're not even a colony, we're a plantation! By the way, as plantation slaves - we give much more than we get...since 1995, we have not even received a payment to compensate for the taxes we lose to the 500,000 nonresidents who work here every day but don't pay taxes....The capital of the nation is the last plantation. Free DC! Statehood NOW!

Posted by: anisej | February 24, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Proportionate to it's population, DC should get just 1 electoral vote for president. They currently get 3. Tell that little detail to the americans who were polled, and then ask the question again.

Posted by: afpre42 | February 24, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Where are our 2 senators?

Posted by: dclifer | February 24, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

It's unconstitutional on its face. If the District is going to be treated as a state, then amend the constitution.

Personally, I think the best idea would be to cede everything but the Capital Mall, including the Capitol and the White House, to Maryland. It would be a huge monkey wrench in Annapolis, but it would give D.C. residents their representation.

Giving the District two senators is absurd, and I say that as a Democrat who'd love the two extra votes. I'd be a little more comfortable with it if the District weren't such a horribly misgoverned hellhole, but giving full statehood to this entity strikes me as exactly the wrong signal to send.

Posted by: OriginalMagicDog | February 24, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

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