This isn’t an official installment of the “Imperfect Union” series, but I’m sticking in an extra point on the side after noticing a fresh Gallup. Gallup found in September that a record number of Americans say it would be “better for the country” if the president and the Congress were all controlled by the same political party.
Calling it a record number is a little bit of hype (by me). Gallup has asked the question 11 times since 2003, so we shouldn’t speak for much of U.S. history. Also it’s a mere 38 percent plurality who say now that one-party conhtrol of all the elected branches would be best. Twenty-three percent say it’s best to have divided control and an astonishing 33 percent say it makes no difference. Not sure what they’re smoking.
Still, the percentage who wish for single-party control is the highest Gallup has ever found, up from the previous high of 35 percent. The big jump comes from Democrats, of whom 49 percent express a preference for one-party rule, compared with 36 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of independents. Gallup’s writeup says that since they’ve been asking the question, there has always been a surge in a presidential election year and especially among members of the party that controls the White House and has a candidate up for reelection.
On the other hand, Gallup finds, the number favoring single-party rule goes down on the occasions when we have actually had single-party rule. Oy.
The element missing from the analysis — and it’s also missing from the question — is whether very many Americans would favor single-party rule if the single party that ruled was the party that they don’t belong to. You can’t cross-examine a poll result, but I suspect that number is very low.
Americans don’t like gridlock. And the latest version of gridlock is about as bad as it’s ever been with increasingly frightening consquences (see the on-rushing “fiscal cliff”). But there is no sure-fire way to bring back the old norms of compromise and nothing built into the system to end gridlock.