Democratic Party supporters show a greater desire for political compromise than Republicans, but only a slight majority of Americans say political intransigence is the main cause of congressional dysfunction, a new Al Jazeera America/Monmouth University survey suggests.
When asked by pollsters who causes more problems in the federal government — “elected officials who are not willing to stand up for their principles or elected officials who are not willing to compromise” — 71 percent of self-identifying Democrats blamed officials who are not willing to compromise, whereas just 40 percent of Republicans agreed.
Nearly half of Republican respondents, 49 percent, said politicians cause trouble by not standing up for their principles, compared with 20 percent of Democrats. Overall, the survey found that 54 percent of Americans think the bigger problem is lack of compromise.
It remains to be seen whether significant compromise will be possible in Washington now that the GOP controls both chambers of Congress and President Barack Obama is in the last two years of his presidency.
On Tuesday evening, during his annual State of the Union address, the president ran down a list of policy changes he would like to see before the end of his final term — many of which will require the cooperation of the legislative branch.
When polled on individual issues, large majorities in both parties expressed willingness to make concessions on things like education and defense spending, although the majorities were consistently larger among self-identified Democrats.
Regarding the national debt, Democrats appeared significantly more willing to compromise than Republicans. While 79 percent of Democrats would be either very willing or moderately willing to make concessions, the same held true for 60 percent of Republicans. Similarly, 71 percent of Democrats expressed some willingness to compromise on immigration, versus 56 percent of Republicans.
Immigration and the national debt were the subjects for dramatic partisan standoffs during Obama’s first six years in office. After failing to reach an accord with Republican hard-liners in Congress regarding comprehensive immigration reform, the White House implemented some modest reform measures unilaterally through executive action in November.
Meanwhile, repeated congressional stalemates over the size of the national debt resulted in a 2013 government shutdown and a debt ceiling standoff that imperiled the country’s credit rating.