As early as March, Jane Meyer of New York received a recording from Mitch McConnell’s adviser, who complained privately at the call of Conservative leaders that the Democrats’ major voting rights bill, the People’s Act, had been polled quite well. “When presented with a very neutral description,” “people generally supported,” the councilor said.
A new study by Data for Progress, conducted as part of the partnership with Vox, supports this assessment. The poll surveyed 1,138 potential voters nationwide between April 16 and April 19 and found that much of what the 800-page bill claims to be extremely popular.
More than 80 percent of those polled said they supported preventing foreign interference in elections, limiting the influence of money in politics and modernizing electoral infrastructure to increase election security. More than 60 percent of respondents supported the requirement for non-partisan redistribution commissions, a 1
There are, of course, a few warnings. The poll presented these questions without biased signals as to which party supported which proposal. In fact, the question that mentioned the parties – whether the Democrats should change the rules of the Senate in order to adopt a redistribution reform without the support of the Republicans – was much more closely divided. (Forty-seven percent of respondents said they supported it, and 42 percent said they were against it.)
The questions also did not address Republicans’ preferred arguments – for example, Republicans would highlight fears that same day and automatic registration could allow non-voters, which is likely to make some respondents more concerned about these proposals.
Other parts of the bill that were not questioned in this poll, such as its restrictions on voters’ personal data laws (this would allow voters without an ID card to present an oath guaranteeing their identity) and the creation of a public funding system which corresponds to small donations may be more controversial. Voter identification requirements usually survey quite well, and public funding often surveys poorly.
The poll also asked for a competitive redistribution reform proposal, which is not currently in the People’s Act – setting proportional standards, so if a party wins about half the votes in a state, it should win about half the seats. (I recently wrote about the debate among Democrats on this idea.) This received less support than any of the other provisions above, but was nevertheless supported by 51% of respondents, and 34% said they opposed this.
In any case, the problem of the Democrats when it comes to the adoption of the Law on People is not the polls – this is the final program of the Senate. The bill, which has already been passed on an almost party line of voting in the House, will require a 60-vote over-majority to be passed in the Senate. With no support from Republicans, activists say the Senate must change its rules to allow the bill to pass. But moderate Democratic senators are reluctant to do so.
Joe Manchin, one of the key detainees, told me in a recent profile that he feared that passing a major bill on party voting would only divide the country further. He claims that 20 to 25 percent of the public no longer trust the system and that a complete overhaul of the party will “guarantee” that this number will increase, leading to greater “anarchy” than in the Capitol of 6 January. He added, “I just believe with all my heart and soul that this will happen and I will not be a part of it.”
Unless he changes his mind, the People’s Act cannot pass through the Senate.