Even though they just got done creating a government in Washington where gridlock is expected to be the norm instead of the exception, voters surveyed this week are overwhelmingly opposed to the filibuster, the procedure most often used bring the Senate to grinding halt.
Exclusive results of of a new poll conducted for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee by venerable Democratic pollster PPP show 64% of voters contacted Tuesday and Wednesday said it was time to get rid of the legislative blocking maneuver used so often by Republicans since 2009. Just 23% said they’d like to preserve the practice, which President Obama has often decried and some Democrats have moved to abandon with little success.
The widespread opposition to the filibuster crosses party lines, the survey showed. Among Democrats, who saw much of their legislative agenda tied up in the Senate by Republican filibusters this year, 77% called for an end to the practice of effectively requiring a 60-vote majority to pass bills. Fifty-seven percent of Republican respondents said they opposed the filibuster, as did 61% of independents.
For PCCC’s Adam Green, the survey is a signal that his group’s push to end the filibuster doesn’t end just because the Senate’s Democratic majority shrank on Tuesday night.
“Even among a skewed 2010 electorate with depressed Democratic turnout and high Republican turnout, voters are tired of obstruction in the Senate and overwhelmingly support the boldest filibuster reform possible: the Constitutional norm of majority rule,” he said. “Democrats can resist the inevitable Republican protests that will come with such reform with the full knowledge that even a Republican-voting electorate supports Democrats being bold on this issue.”
Obama has been among those claiming the time for the filibuster has come and gone. The president saw a number of his policy plans and nominees die in the Senate because the Democrats couldn’t rally 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster this year, and as recently as last week he said the legislative process would be better without it.
“There are a couple of things that have changed in our politics that are gonna have to be fixed,” Obama told Jon Stewart when he visited the Daily Show Oct. 27. “One is the way the filibuster operates. As I said, that’s just not in the Constitution.”
Last year, a number of Democrats said it was time to end the filibuster as the process bogged down the health care bill and other legislative items. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered one plan to reduce the power of the filibuster. In February, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put the kibosh on Harkin’s plan, saying the 67 votes required to implement it weren’t there.
PPP surveyed 548 voters Nov. 2 and 3. The margin of error for the poll is 4.2%.