Poll: Democrats Cheer ‘Nuclear Option’ — Republicans Not So Much

Independents split on Harry Reid’s filibuster change while young Americans strongly support a 60-vote threshold on legislation.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 27: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) answers reporters' questions during a news conference after the weekly Senate Democratic Policy Committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol November 27, 2012 in Washington, DC. Reid has introduced the idea of the 'nuclear option,' a change to the Senate rules to allow bills to pass with a simple majority, avoiding the filibuster. 
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Shane Goldmacher
Dec. 19, 2013, 2:53 p.m.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id’s re­cent de­cision to elim­in­ate fili­busters on most pres­id­en­tial ap­pointees is viewed al­most en­tirely through a par­tis­an prism, with Demo­crats cheer­ing and Re­pub­lic­ans jeer­ing.

A Na­tion­al Journ­al poll found a ma­jor­ity of Demo­crats, 59 per­cent, said they agreed with Re­id’s move last month to gut the abil­ity of the minor­ity party stall pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ees. Re­pub­lic­ans strongly dis­agreed. Only 34 per­cent said the de­cision to al­low nom­in­ees to be con­firmed with only 51 votes was the right de­cision; 60 per­cent thought it was the wrong one.

In­de­pend­ents split the dif­fer­ence, with a nar­row plur­al­ity of 46 per­cent to 45 per­cent in fa­vor of the con­tro­ver­sial rule change.

The sharp par­tis­an di­vide in the sur­vey came even though the poll ques­tion did not men­tion which party was cur­rently in con­trol of the Sen­ate or had pushed through the rule change.

Over­all, a nar­row plur­al­ity of Amer­ic­ans sup­por­ted the over­haul of con­firm­a­tion rules, 47 per­cent to 44 per­cent.

Men (50 per­cent) were a bit more sup­port­ive of the fili­buster change than wo­men (43 per­cent), but over­all it was party af­fil­i­ation that provided the starkest con­trast. The poll showed no ma­jor dif­fer­ences in per­spect­ive between the young and the old, those earn­ing less and those earn­ing more than $50,000 per year, and those with col­lege de­grees and those without.

In the Sen­ate, lead­ers of both parties have flip-flopped on chan­ging the fili­buster rules — known in D.C. as the “nuc­le­ar op­tion.” Dur­ing Pres­id­ent George W. Bush’s term, when Re­pub­lic­ans were in con­trol of the Sen­ate, Re­id was among the strongest op­pon­ents and Sen. Mitch Mc­Con­nell, R-Ky., was a sup­port­er. Now that Re­id is in the ma­jor­ity and Mc­Con­nell is the minor­ity lead­er, their roles have re­versed.

Na­tion­al Journ­al Poll show­ing the op­pos­ing view­points between Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats re­gard­ing a new fili­buster rule. (Stephanie Stamm)The power to fili­buster re­mains in place for le­gis­la­tion, and a ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans be­lieve it should stay that way. A sol­id 54 per­cent of re­spond­ents said they would prefer to keep the cur­rent 60-vote threshold that is needed to ad­vance most le­gis­la­tion — and end fili­busters — in the Sen­ate. Only 37 per­cent said they’d prefer to see the threshold be dropped to 51 votes, as it has been for con­firm­a­tions of all posts oth­er than the Su­preme Court.

Re­pub­lic­ans have said that Demo­crats “will pay a very, very heavy price for” chan­ging the rules, as Sen. John Mc­Cain, R-Ar­iz., put it. One pos­sib­il­ity that has been dangled is that a fu­ture GOP-con­trolled Sen­ate would do away with fili­busters on le­gis­la­tion now that Re­id opened the door to the ma­jor­ity party musc­ling through rules changes mid-ses­sion.

Amer­ic­ans’ opin­ions were also di­vided by polit­ic­al party on the is­sue of chan­ging the vote threshold for le­gis­la­tion. More than two-thirds of Re­pub­lic­ans, 69 per­cent, want to keep the 60-vote re­quire­ment for new laws while a bare ma­jor­ity, 50 per­cent, of Demo­crats want to lower the threshold to 51. In­de­pend­ents, once again, fell in between, with 58 per­cent in fa­vor of the cur­rent threshold for le­gis­la­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, young Amer­ic­ans, those between ages 18 and 29, were among the most in­tent on keep­ing the 60-vote threshold, with 60 per­cent of them sup­port­ing it. Those with col­lege de­grees (58 per­cent) were also more likely to sup­port the ex­ist­ing threshold for le­gis­la­tion than those with less school­ing.

The sur­vey of 1,000 adults was con­duc­ted by land­line and cell phone by Prin­ceton Sur­vey Re­search As­so­ci­ates In­ter­na­tion­al Dec. 12-15. The mar­gin of er­ror is plus or minus 3.6 per­cent­age points.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Pocketed Insurance Money Following 2005 Hurricane
29 minutes ago

Donald Trump has said he received a $17 million insurance payment in 2005 following Hurricane Wilma, which he claimed did severe damage to his private club in Florida. However, an Associated Press investigation could not find any evidence of the large-scale damage that Trump has mentioned. Additionally, Trump claimed that he transferred some of the $17 million to his personal account thanks to a "very good insurance policy."

Trump Admits He’s Behind
39 minutes ago
GSA Delays Decision on New FBI HQ Until 2017
43 minutes ago

The General Services Administration "will not choose a location for a FBI headquarters until after the new year, a potential setback for Prince George's County and its aim to land the agency and its 11,000 employees. ... It had hoped to make a decision by the end of 2016, timing which would have favored Maryland in terms of political clout on Capitol Hill. Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker had been pressing for a decision before 2017," while veteran Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who's retiring, can still influence the outcome.

McCarthy, Pelosi Team Up on National Guard Bonuses
57 minutes ago

The majority and minority leader of the House are both saying "California's veterans are not to blame for being mistakenly overpaid, after a Los Angeles Times story revealed that officials are trying to claw back millions in bonuses from California National Guardsmen. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the efforts to recoup the money 'disgraceful,' and asked for the Department of Defense to waive the repayments soldiers would be forced to make if they inappropriately received re-enlistment bonuses for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she's looking for a "legislative fix" in the lame-duck session.

IBD/TIPP Poll Shows a Dead Heat
3 hours ago

A new Investor’s Business Daily/TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each earning 41% support. On the one hand, the poll has been skewing in Trump's favor this year, relative to other polls. But on the other, data guru Nate Silver called the IBD/TIPP poll the most accurate in 2012.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.