Only 15% Oppose One-Party Rule In D.C.

by: Chris Bowers

Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 18:45

In accordance with current Republican messaging, Rasmussen's top political story right now is a poll that argues only 34% of the country thinks one-party rule is a good thing:

As Election Day 2008 approaches with the prospect of a Democrat in the White House and Democratic control of the Congress, only one-third (34%) of U.S. voters think rule by one political party is better for the country.

Forty-five percent (45%) say it's better if the White House  and Congress are each run by a different political party, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twenty-one percent (21%) are undecided.

With 21% undecided, and neither answer reaching a plurality, clearly this isn't a subject that the electorate has every put much thought into. This is much to the chagrin of both the McCain campaign, and concern troll, elitist "bi-partisan" pundits everywhere.

However, let's leave abstract questions about "one-party rule in D.C." aside for a moment, and actually look at how people vote in federal elections. This is not, after all, an abstract question. The same people who vote for President also vote for House and Senate. Maybe, rather than asking poll questions, we should actually check to see how people vote across these three offices. The percentage of people who do not vote for the same party in a single Presidential, Senate and House elections would be the actual number of people who oppose one-party rule in D.C.

In 2000, according to the Presidential exit poll, 85% of all voters chose one party for both President and Senate (no numbers were available for the House). In 2006, only 16% of the participants in the national House exit poll indicated that they were neither Kerry voters who voted Democratic for U.S. House, nor Bush voters who voted Republican for U.S. House (I can't find any comparable numbers for 2004).

So, there you have it. Only about 15%-16% the country is actually opposed to one-party rule in D.C., in that only about 15%-16% of the country doesn't vote straight party line for President, Senate and House. Five in six Americans have no problem with one-party rule, in that they vote for the same party for President, Senate and House.

That's not a very bi-partisan, anti-"one party rule" country, is it? Too bad that facts like these won't stop pundits from crowing about the supposed hatred of one-party rule in D.C.

Chris Bowers :: Only 15% Oppose One-Party Rule In D.C.

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Oh, It's NOT "One Party Rule" (4.00 / 2)
that's being opposed by "real Americans" it's DEMOCRATIC one party rule.

Republicans are perfectly fine with Bush & the Republicans controlling everything, but as soon as Democrats threaten to win, then suddenly the right-wing and their media allies are "shocked! Shocked I tell you" to discover that one party might control both the White House and Congress.

Get used to it. For the next 4 years we're going to be seeing a LOT of stories about how voters "hate" one party government, at least until the Republicans regain control, then they'll forget all about it.

I agree (0.00 / 0)
The media didn't make a peep when Rove crowed about "the permanent Republican majority." I think the objections to one party rule are also related to the "we are a center-right nation" meme. When the Republicans are in charge, everything's rosy because their political views line up with the views of "real Americans" (at least according to the talking heads). They believe the elitist Democrats are far outside of the mainstream. To them, it's unfeasible that Americans are voting Democratic because the Democrats are as liberal as they are. Moreover, the media refuses to believe there are lots of Americans who wish the Democrats were more liberal.

I don't even know how you ask an unbiased question about one-party rule in our political environment. If these "real Americans" strongly preferred two party rule in October 2006, for instance, isn't it possible they were reacting against the disastrous Republican rule (not against one party rule in general)?

In my fantasy world, the Blue Dogs or Progressives split off into their own party. That way, we don't even have to have this conversation! The Democrats may still be in the majority, but it would be a lot harder for the media to push this "one party domination may be the downfall of democracy" storyline if there were a healthy number of Greens, Blue Dog Democrats, and new Progressives. I have no problem with one party rule in theory; I don't see it as inherently evil. If the only alternative is a Republican president or Congress, I love one party rule.  

[ Parent ]
Great post! This ridiculous poll question has a lot in common with (0.00 / 0)
these polling perennials: "Did Saddam Hussein have anything to do with 9/11?" and "Did Saddam have WMD'?" It makes just as much sense as asking respondents if oral contraceptives can protect them from HIV, whether they can repel bullets, or whether jumping off a building would cause them to fall to the ground. Aside from manipulating public opinion through the powers of suggestion and false conformity,  what is there to be gained by asking these questions?

And if you choose to ask such absurd questions, and the respondent is unfamiliar any of these objective,  demonstrable truths, don't you have an obligation to disabuse people of these false notions? As with the 9/11 and WMD questions, if you don't tell them the truth, someone, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, could die. If there's a code of ethics for pollsters, surely this is a violation.

Hmmmmmm (0.00 / 0)
Your argument assumes that people do not prioritize or make compromises when they vote.  You also draw this conclusion by implication.  If the pollster (which ranked number two predicting the results of 2004 -- despite apparently being a rightwing monster) erred asking the voters their opinion on this subject directly, then making an inference based on voting behavior alone seems like an even bigger stretch.

Having said this, of course the Republicans are simply playing politics -- but isn't that what both parties do? As a progressive, I really appreciate the structure of checks and balances.  That's one of the brilliant things about our constitutional design. We have courts, a divided legislature, the executive and the states to turn to for support and protection.  So, I think it is important to separate out the notion of divided government from McCain's political strategy.  

Ultimately, when one party engages in excess -- and both have historically -- the electorate will respond.  But how much damage will the controlling party do before voters punish it?  During the FDR-New Deal-LBJ-Great Society dominance, the Democrats were the most warmongering party on the planet.  Though heralded today as the most progressive figure in Democratic history, FDR shipped thousands of Japanese Americans to prison camps, and following WWII, the Dems would go on to fight most of the Cold War.  Ironically, Reagan was president when we finally ended our imperialistic and patriarchal struggle with the Soviet Union.  Historically, the Democrats were the pro-slavery, pro-war, and anti-civil rights party, and the Republicans were far more progressive than today's Democrats.

Because of their histories, I do not trust the Democrats or the Republicans as "institutions."  They both have great and decent people among their membership, but institutionally, neither is innocent of wrongdoing.  Whether we have a divided government  or not, it is imperative that "we the people" remain vigilant.  The Democrats have already discarded our critical voice this election season.  We have endeavored to shield our candidate from even the slightest scrutiny, and have beaten down even those within our party who ask legitimate questions.  That mentality, however, will only augment machine power, rather than help the people.

I'll also note assumptions in your argument (0.00 / 0)
but assumptions that go the other way.

You attribute the 15% who split their tickets to a desire to see divided government in DC.  However, doesn't it seem unlikely that "having divided government" is actually the motivation of this 15%?  I doubt many, if any at all, have walked into the voting booth and said "I'm voting for Arlen Spector and John Kerry because I favor divided government."  More likely, it'd be "I think Spector's done a good job.  But jeez, Bush is even worse than I thought he'd been, I'm voting Kerry."  

So I actually think you're being too nice.

Also, I'd say that, right now, about 99% of Republicans are opposed to one-party government, because they know it won't be their party.  So if the choices are government by the other party or split government, split will probably seem attractive.  But if they had their druthers, they'd like it all.  

Saxby Chambliss  

Not the same thing (0.00 / 0)
The percentage of people who do not vote for the same party in a single Presidential, Senate and House elections would be the actual number of people who oppose one-party rule in D.C.

I do not believe the above assertion, and neither should you.  It doesn't make sense.

I don't know how many people have a preference for split government, but even people who have a fairly strong preference for it may still have even stronger preferences for president and for a particular member of congress (or against one).  Or they may have expectations about which party is going to control congress regardless of their vote.  I can think of many reasons why someone would vote a split ticket despite having no preference for divided government, as well; at least some of those 15% voted the way they did because they have no loyalty to a party and preferred those candidates.

I'm Against It (0.00 / 0)
I don't want to see one-party rule in Washington.  Too bad for me, of course, because the previous one-party rule has fucked things up so much that we'll need the coming one-party rule to fix things.  But in principle, one-party rule is a bad thing.  It's the philosopher-king idea -- it's great, so long as there's no corruption, etc.  But right now, we're in a polarized two-party system.  Democrats will want to stick together, otherwise they won't be able to beat the Republicans on legislative issues, and that makes true discussion on the merits of the issues much harder.  We'll still have some guys fighting for us like Feingold -- and hopefully Franken -- in the Senate, but if everyone else sticks together, we'll end up having crappy Democratic legislation as opposed to good Democratic legislation.  And eventually the pendulum will swing the other way, etc, and we'll be left in the dust for another while, waiting for our movement to rebuild itself.

Of course, maybe we'll have another realignment, and the Republican party will be much more to the left.  THEN WE WIN.  THEN WE WIN.  THEN WE WIN.


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