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Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute

Americans split on filibuster reform, Monmouth poll finds

By Nikita Biryukov, April 29 2021 11:00 am

Americans are evenly split on filibuster reform, though divisions exist along party lines, a Monmouth University poll released Thursday found.

Equal shares of the 800 American adults polled, 34%, said they disapproved of the filibuster when it was described as a procedure to block a vote absent a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate. Another 33% had no opinion.

At 61% approval, Republicans were far likelier to appreciate the limit on the majority party, while only 9% of Democrats felt the same way. Just 13% of Republicans disapproved, and only 9% of Democrats approved of the rule.

Independent voters were more spilt, with 38% holding a positive view of the filibuster and 30% holding a negative one.

“As with everything else in American politics, opinion on the filibuster is subject to a sharp partisan divide. However, there is a sizable chunk of the public that hasn’t really given it a lot of thought,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Equal shares, 38%, said the filibuster should be kept unchanged or reformed. Those results featured a similar partisan split, with 79% of Democrats saying it should be reformed or removed and 76% of Republicans saying it should be kept unchanged.

But most Americans remain unfamiliar with the mechanics of the Senate rule. Just 19% said they were very familiar with the workings of the Senate Filibuster, while 40% said they were somewhat familiar with the same. A little under three-tenths of respondents hadn’t even heard of it.

Older Americans were more likely to know the rule. Sixty-seven percent of respondents over the age of 55 were at least somewhat familiar with the rule, compared to 48% of adults aged 18 to 34 and 58% of those aged 35-54.

There was also a knowledge gap along racial lines. White respondents, 64%, were likelier to know the rule than non-white ones, 47%. College-educated respondents, 74%, were yet likelier than their non-college educated counterparts, 52%.

Nearly half of respondents, 46%, said the filibuster should keep its 60-vote threshold, while 32% said it should be lowered and 16% believed it should be raised.

Filibuster supporters overwhelmingly wanted to keep the rule the same, with nearly three-quarters saying the threshold should stay at 60 votes. Sixty-seven percent of opponents said the line should move below 60 votes, though some 12% of them believed it should be raised.

“It’s really important to put these numbers in context. A sizable proportion of the public doesn’t pay close attention to how the filibuster actually works. That leads to some contradictory views on filibuster reforms and a default position for many to stick with the status quo,” said Murray.

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