A record-high 38% of Americans prefer that the same party control the presidency and Congress, while a record-low 23% say it would be better if the president and Congress were from different parties and 33% say it doesn’t make any difference. While Americans tend to lean toward one-party government over divided government in presidential election years, this year finds the biggest gap in preferences for the former over the latter and is a major shift in views from one year ago.
These findings are based on Gallup’s annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 6-9. The data show an increased level of support for one-party rule amid a currently divided government in which the Democrats control the presidency and the Senate, while the Republicans control the House. This suggests many Americans are experiencing divided-government fatigue.
Opinions on divided government have fluctuated over the years. When one party controlled both Congress and the presidency in 2006 and 2010, Gallup found near-historical lows supporting one-party rule. This suggests Americans may simply tend to prefer what they don’t have or see problems in whatever the current situation is. At least one chamber of Congress changed hands in the subsequent elections, and the increase in support for one-party government in 2008 foreshadowed an election that would give the Democrats sole control of the presidency and both houses of Congress.
Dugan cites stats showing that most of the increasing preference for one-party government is among Democrats, which is no great shocker. But it isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that the trend has broader roots, given the recent uptick in Democratic self-i.d. and broadening support for Democratic candidates down ballot. It looks like more voters are clear about who is responsible for gridlock in Washington.