DC statehood finds support from majority of Marylanders

A majority of Marylanders support D.C. statehood, according to a new poll.

Fifty-one percent of respondents in the new poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland said they favor making D.C. a separate state compared to 40% who oppose the idea. Another 9% of respondents said they have no opinion.

The poll results, which come amid a renewed push by District leaders to add a 51st star to the U.S. flag, show D.C.’s neighbors are more open to the idea than most other Americans.

A national Gallup poll in June found just 29% of Americans supported making D.C. a state compared to 64% who opposed the idea. Nationally, more Americans — 66%, according to that same Gallup poll — favor making Puerto Rico a separate state.

The new poll was conducted over the phone between Oct. 9 and Oct. 14 from a random sample of 860 Maryland residents. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

The poll provides an interesting look at how specific arguments for or against D.C. statehood affect people’s opinions. Poll respondents were read different arguments and then asked if they would favor of oppose making D.C. a separate state based on that argument.

The most persuasive arguments for making D.C. a state, according to the poll: When respondents were told D.C. residents pay federal taxes, the percentage of respondents supporting statehood shot up to 67% (with 27% still opposed).

When respondents were told D.C. has more residents than Wyoming and Vermont, support for statehood increased to 58%, compared to 36% opposed. And, perhaps not surprisingly for a “blue state,” when respondents were told that making D.C. a state would mean Democrats would likely gain two additional seats in the U.S. Senate, approval increased to 58% with 37% opposed.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a statement after the poll results were published, arguing that when more Americans “know the full story of Washington, D.C.” they will support statehood. “Our neighbors in Maryland know that by recognizing the rights promised to us in the U.S. Constitution, we would be building not only a stronger DC, but a stronger region. That is why we will continue to teach more Americans about our plight until we make it right,” she said in the statement.

Separate from the issue of statehood, Marylanders support, by an overwhelming margin, new legislation giving D.C. full representation in Congress. In the poll, 76% of respondents said they support legislation giving D.C. a voting member in the U.S. House, compared to 20% who oppose.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has represented D.C. in Congress for nearly 30 years, is a nonvoting delegate.

Holmes Norton has been one of the leading voices the behind the new push for statehood, introducing legislation to make D.C. the 51st state that has garnered more than 200 co-sponsors. She also engineered last month’s first congressional hearing on the issue in a quarter century.

Earlier this month, a D.C. real estate executive filed paperwork to challenge Holmes Norton in 2020. Dave Krucoff, who plans to run as an independent, says he opposes making D.C. a separate state and instead wants to return the District to Maryland in a process called retrocession. According to Krucoff’s concept, D.C. would then become its own county in Maryland — Douglass County, named for the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

However, the new poll finds little appetite in the Old Line state for such an idea. Just 36% of Marylanders support turning D.C. into a new county in Maryland, compared to 57% who oppose it.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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