Half of Americans support D.C. statehood in the wake of the Capitol riots

January 16, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

With the country reeling from last week’s riots at the Capitol and Democrats soon to be in control of the presidency, House, and Senate, roughly half of Americans support granting statehood to Washington, D.C.

In a Fortune–SurveyMonkey online poll of U.S. adults conducted earlier this week, 49% of respondents said they supported D.C. statehood, with 25% saying the Capitol riots made them more likely to support the cause. Among Democrats, the percentage of support was 73%, while just 27% of Republicans felt the same.

Of Democrats, 42% of respondents characterized their support for statehood as “strong,” compared to 8% of Republicans.

The issue overall could be described as evenly split, as 45% of all respondents still oppose D.C. statehood, with 20% saying the Capitol riots made them less likely to support the cause.

D.C. statehood has been a contentious topic for decades—if not centuries—but calls to make the district the 51st state have grown louder in the past couple of years, culminating with a Democratic-controlled House passing the DC Admission Act last June. The bill died in a Republican-controlled Senate, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissing it as “full-bore socialism.”

But last week’s failure of law enforcement to contain a mob of President Trump’s supporters as they broke into the Capitol building, leaving five dead in the process, brought new relevancy to the matter. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was unable to summon the local National Guard, as the power to do so resides with the federal government, rather than the city itself.

Additionally, D.C. residents for years have complained about their inability to choose their own judges or city budget, or have their elected representatives vote in Congress, despite paying more in federal taxes per capita than anywhere else in the country.

In the wake of the Capitol riots, Bowser issued a statement calling for D.C. statehood to hit incoming President Biden’s desk within the first 100 days of his administration. “Congress must immediately transfer command of the District of Columbia National Guard from the President of the United States and put it squarely under the command and control of the District of Columbia,” she said.

Questions remain over the feasibility of such a bill, however. Despite a narrow 51–50 majority in the Senate, Democrats would almost certainly require a 60-member supermajority to avoid legislation being filibustered.

The Fortune–SurveyMonkey poll was conducted among a national sample of 2,554 adults in the U.S. The modeled error estimate for the survey is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.

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