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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Americans Like Divided Government

Republicans are taking a hit as a result of the government shutdown, but James Madison may ride to their rescue in the 2014 midterm election.  Madison famously explained the need for each branch of government to check the others. Americans may not have read Federalist 51, but they get the idea.  Gallup reports:
Even as the division of power in Washington between Republicans and Democrats is wreaking havoc with the federal government, Americans' preference for having one political party run both the White House and Congress is at a record low.

At, 25%, the percentage of Americans today favoring one-party control in Washington is virtually equivalent to the 28% who favor splitting power between the two parties. The plurality, 38%, say it makes no difference.

The latest figures are from an Oct. 3-6 Gallup poll, conducted within the first week of the partial federal government shutdown. The freeze on non-essential services resulted from the failure of President Barack Obama and the Republican-led House of Representatives to agree on the latest continuing resolution needed to fund the government.

This raises questions about how potent the issue of partisan balance will be in the 2014 midterm elections or the 2016 presidential election. Both parties may invoke the shutdown fiasco to try to persuade voters to install a single party -- their party -- both in the White House and on Capitol Hill. However, if Americans aren't currently convinced this is the best scenario for the country, it may be difficult to kindle that belief in one or three years.