The Blog

Is the Divided Government Argument Effective?

1:49 PM, Oct 27, 2008 • By GARY ANDRES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

I found this article by Shailagh Murray in the Sunday Washington Post curious. It argues the number of people who say they want the same party to control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue has reached "new highs." Murray writes:

The percentage of Americans saying they preferred that the same party control the White House and Congress has reached new highs in the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll. On Thursday and Friday, the poll showed that 50 percent of likely voters wanted one party to control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and that 30 percent preferred split-party rule.

The article suggests that one of McCain's closing arguments--unified Democratic control is dangerous--receives minimal support from likely voters. But looking at the overall numbers masks the preferences of McCain's real audience in the final week of the campaign--independents.

No surprise, the bulk of support for unified control comes from self-identified Democrats. Republicans also prefer unified control. But as ABC News polling director Gary Langer points out independents (McCain's real target group) lean toward divided government.

On the question of whether divided or single-party control is better in general, 50 percent overall side with single-party control--Democrats most [63 percent], independents least [34 percent]. Thirty percent favor divided government--independents and Republicans most. And 14 percent have no preference either way.

You can read Langer's analysis here.