Are the concepts of consensus and constructive compromise oh, so 20th century? Apparently so if the latest Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll conducted by Pew Research is examined. It portends an increasingly divisive, polarized, partisan and angry political near — and perhaps long term — future:
Nearly half of America — including nearly two-thirds of Republicans and 53 percent of independents — admires political leaders who refuse to compromise. This is further evidence that the current political atmosphere is not merely contentious, but hostile to any hope of negotiated settlements to the many political and policy differences that define the current landscape.
In essence, the Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, conducted with the Pew Research Center, suggests a confrontational mood in the country that may mirror the partisan wrangling in Washington and might even give trumped-up cable TV’s political spout-fests some rationale for their vein-popping intensity.
It most assuredly will. News editors — print and broadcast — are big on giving readers things that are of “interest” and this is further proof that the interest for confrontation, hot talk and over-the-top rhetoric is clearly there and the mood for lowering voices a tad and finding common ground is on the descent.
The survey found 49 percent of all respondents “admire political leaders who stick to their positions without compromising.” The survey also found that just 42 percent “admire political leaders who make compromises with people they disagree with.”
The poll, which surveyed 1,005 adults across the country by landline or cell phone, was conducted last Thursday through Sunday and has a 4-point error margin for the overall sample, with a higher error margin for subgroups. On the compromise question, whites matched the 49-42 percent split, while blacks, by 53-35 percent, favored politicians who did not compromise. Sixty-two percent of Republicans said they favored non-compromising politicians compared to 54 percent of Democrats who backed compromisers. Independents sided with non-compromisers, 53-40 percent.
And the poll contains (more) bad news for Democrats:
Whether there is any opportunity to compromise on any issue may be of little concern to Democrats, at this point. The survey contained disturbing news for congressional Democrats on the economy, taxes and Social Security. The results show that Republicans have drawn even on the economy and Social Security while regaining their historic edge on taxes.
The bad news: these attitudes are likely to expand and face the GOP if it wins the Congress and, at some future date, when it wins the White House again. The outlook is for more polarization as both sides dig in their well-heeled heels…
FOOTNOTE: The National Journal piece on the poll was written by Major Garrett, who left Fox News to work for the NJ.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.