By John DiStaso
July 16, 2021
(WMUR – Manchester, NH) – More than 60 percent of Granite Staters believe the sweeping campaign finance and elections reform For the People Act should become law, and a plurality believe the Senate should reform the U.S. Senate filibuster rule to make it easier to pass the bill, according to a new poll.
The findings are included in a poll conducted for the progressive voting rights and campaign finance reform advocacy group End Citizens United/Let America Vote by Public Policy Polling, a well-known firm that has long polled for Democratic and left-leaning groups and candidates in addition to releasing its own independent surveys.
The polling memo, shared first with WMUR by ECU/LAV, says PPP surveyed 547 New Hampshire voters July 7 and 8, with half of the interviews conducted by telephone and half by text message. The polling sample was 46 percent self-described independents, 28 percent self-described Democrats and 26 percent self-described Republicans.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4.2 percentage points, found that 62 percent support the For the People Act, including 63 percent of self-describe independents.
The bill, which would loosen some states’ restrictions on how federal elections are conducted and reform how those elections are financed, has the support of the four Democratic members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation. But Secretary of State William Gardner, Gov. Chris Sununu and Republican state legislative leaders oppose it.
In the poll, the bill was described in this way:
“The For the People Act, which is currently being discussed in the U.S. Senate, is voting and elections legislation that ends dark money, enacts anti-corruption measures, stops partisan gerrymandering, and protects the freedom to vote for all Americans.”
The bill passed the U.S. House in early March but has been stalled in the U.S. Senate since Republicans in late June blocked debate on the bill. The 50-50 vote was along party lines and fell 10 votes short of the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.
Some Democrats have called for an outright end to the filibuster, while others – including New Hampshire U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen – have called for more modest reforms, such as returning to the previous tradition of requiring senators to speak continually in order for the filibuster to be maintained.
Vice President Kamala Harris said this week she is “having conversations” about the possibility of arriving at a filibuster reform carve-out for voting reform legislation.
The PPP poll found that by a margin of 45 percent to 36 percent, Granite States support reforming the filibuster. PPP said that when the filibuster issue was “framed in real-world, consequential terms,” 61 percent leaned in favor of filibuster reform.
President Joe Biden this week reaffirmed his support for voting rights and the For the People Act in a speech in Philadelphia, calling the issue “the most significant test” of the nation’s democracy since the Civil War.
“That bill would help end voter suppression in the states, get dark money out of politics, give voice to the people at the grassroots level, create a fairer district maps, and end partisan political gerrymandering,” Biden said. He also called for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Meanwhile, the Republican majority in the New Hampshire Legislature in June passed an amendment saying that if the For the People Act becomes federal law, New Hampshire will retain authority under its state constitution to control all aspects of its elections for state and county offices. The amendment, if enacted, sets up the possibility of a two-tiered election system.
The amended Senate Bill 89 has yet to arrive on the desk of the governor, who has said he is “praying” that the For the People Act “gets shot down in Washington and we don’t have to deal with it.”
Referring to the For the People Act, Sununu said that “anybody who would vote for that, House or Senate, is not looking out for New Hampshire’s interest.”
But, reacting to the polling results, Tiffany Muller, president of ECU/LAV, said, “It’s abundantly clear that New Hampshire voters agree on the need to crack down on corruption and protect the freedom to vote, and they support reforming the filibuster to do so.
“The For the People Act will protect the voice and vote of Granite Staters and give them a say on the issues affecting them and their families. The senators fighting to pass this bill are on the side of the people and have their support to pass this bill so that the system works for everyone, not just corporate interests and wealthy donors.”