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Congressional Insiders Poll: Is Divided Government Good or Bad? Congressional Insiders Poll: Is Divided Government Good or Bad?

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Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll: Is Divided Government Good or Bad?

Also: How Powerful Will the Tea Party be in 2012?

On balance, do you think that divided government is good or bad?

Democrats (31 votes) 

Good: 26%
Bad: 52%
Depends; neither (volunteered): 22%



“In theory, it should be good and foster compromise, but House Republicans have shown they are incapable of flexibility and reason.”

“If Republicans controlled everything it would be a total disaster.”


“Can you imagine how bad things could be if the tea party controlled everything? Pre-WWII Italy comes to mind!”


“Divided government is proving to be a bad deal for the American people right now. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

“Democrats got the job done.”


“You gotta be kidding! What about the 112th Congress is not clear?”

“Track dollars donated to campaigns, however, and you’ll find there is truly little division in government. Wall Street sees no division here in Washington, as both parties are steadfastly in their pockets. Campaign finance reform anyone?”

“Too much male chicken game going on here: The old-timers used to work it out. Now, the show horses are in charge.”

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“No one is then accountable to the country.”

“Bad when partisanship is so extreme.”

“Bad this term.”

Depends; neither

“It’s certainly better than when Republicans run everything. Divided government can produce results, but it requires both sides to be willing to compromise—something we don’t see now in the Republican Party.”

“Divided government is good if the alternative is full Republican control and bad if the alternative is full Democratic control.”

“I’ve seen divided government when it’s been good, and I’ve seen it when it’s been bad. If the two sides in a divided government are committed to working to build consensus and find the middle on difficult issues, that divided government has the potential to be very good. That dynamic is not the one we’re witnessing today.”

“Divided, OK. Dysfunction, no-no.”

“There are times when divided government has moderated excesses and produced a positive policy blend. At present, however, with deep polarization and the Republicans beholden to their most extreme elements, it is dysfunctional and dangerous.”

“Divided government can work if both sides are willing to compromise. Unfortunately, the House Republicans will not.”


On balance, do you think that divided government is good or bad? 

Republicans (30 votes)

Good: 77%
Bad: 17%
Depends; neither (volunteered): 7%


“Parties get too arrogant when they control all branches.”

“But it requires politicians to compromise. That is hazardous to one’s political survival these days. The politicians aren’t the problem with respect to compromise—the voters are.”

“There’s a difference between a divided government and a divisive one. Most independents and rational people are OK with a somewhat-divided government so that real leaders can seek out balance and compromise. We saw what the Democrats did with full control of all three levers of government: an extreme agenda on spending and programs that caused serious backlash and brought in the GOP House.”

“Good in theory, not always good in practice.”

“The current so-called gridlock is simply the Republicans providing a firewall to keep [the Democrats from] digging us into fiscal oblivion. Just look back at the past totally controlled by a Dem Congress for proof.”

“But history has proven that both options have had good and bad moments.”

“We have a divided government by design. Our two-party system coupled with a bicameral legislature creates a bottleneck for a lot of bad legislation and gives us the opportunity to undo harmful laws.”

“It’s the only way to put sacred cows on the table as hamburger.”

“We cannot go back to the [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi dictatorship and ‘iron rule.’ ”


“Every Congress, it gets a little worse. It is more and more difficult to find common ground.”

Depends; neither

“Good, if Republicans are in the majority in both bodies of Congress, and the White House; bad if Republicans aren’t in the majority in both bodies, and the White House.”

“Depends on the integrity and trustworthiness of elected officials.”


Do you feel the tea party will be more or less of a force in the 2012 elections than it was in 2010?

Democrats (31 votes)

This article appears in the July 30, 2011 edition of National Journal Magazine.

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