Divided Government; the Voting Public Seems to Prefer It
Byline: Gary Andres, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Did this year's election outcome conform to voters' desire for divided government? It appears so. After four years of unified Republican control, voters imposed their preferences for divided government on our national legislative and executive institutions by electing Democrat majorities in the House and Senate in Congress. This electoral outcome is consistent with recent survey research showing robust support for divided government. But it also pushes to the surface some of the deeper contradictions buried deep inside the American electorate.
According to the most recent American Survey (November 17-20, 2006; 805 registered voters), voter support for divided government is strong. We asked the following question: "Thinking about divided government, where one party controls the White House and the other controls Congress, which of the following two statements comes closer to your view: Divided government is good because it provides a check on each branch or divided government is bad because it creates more gridlock in Washington."
As the first chart demonstrates, Americans think divided government is "good" by nearly a two-to-one margin. Among partisan categories, divided government receives the strongest support among independent voters (69 percent), followed by Democrats (65 percent) and then Republicans (56 percent). Interestingly, even though the GOP lost unified control, a majority of that party's voters still say divided government is "good" because it provides a check on each branch. Support for divided government is also strong regardless of age, gender or income categories. Looking further into differences among ideological categories, self-identified "very conservative" voters are the only group where a higher percentage thinks divided government is "bad" (44 percent "good" compared to 48 percent "bad"). In all other self-described ideological categories, strong majorities like divided government. The highest support comes among "moderates," with nearly 72 percent preferring divided government. …