Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
President Biden's unity pitch has gained steam since November, with fully 71 percent of Americans saying they would rather see Republicans in Congress find ways to work together with Biden instead of focusing on keeping him in check (25 percent).
The new finding from a Monmouth University poll shows a notable nine-point increase in the public's thirst for Republican cooperation with Biden since just after the November election when 62 percent said the same. But perhaps more importantly, the widespread support for GOP lawmakers working with the president to tackle problems suggests that Biden's unity push is very much in sync with the public. Biden recently clarified that to him, unity means coalescing around what a majority of Americans think will improve their lives, but not necessarily securing Republican votes for those policies. In short, it's about the public, not the lawmakers.
"If you pass a piece of legislation that breaks down on party lines, but it gets passed, it doesn't mean there wasn't unity, it just means it wasn't bipartisan," Biden explained this week.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was also asked to clarify what "unity" means to Biden. "Unity is about the country feeling that they're in it together, and I think we'll know that when we see it," she said, adding that Biden would be working on that at "every opportunity he has to speak to the public."
Now we know that more than seven in 10 Americans agree with Biden's vision—they like his pitch and want GOP lawmakers to join him in his effort to solve the nation's problems. That includes 41 percent of Republicans (up from 28 percent in November) as well as 70 percent of independents and 94 percent of Democrats.
The public's penchant for GOP compromise also seems to be at a high point, with several surveys over the past decade showing less appetite for bipartisan compromise. The questions aren't a perfect match, but an October 2017 Gallup poll found 54 percent of Americans wanted political leaders in Washington to compromise to get things done. That finding came after nine months of unified GOP control in Washington during which Republicans tried and failed multiple times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
And in November 2014, just weeks after voters handed Republicans control of the Senate, 63 percent of Americans wanted candidates who were elected to office that year to remain flexible enough to broker deals, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. What a cruel joke voters played on themselves by putting grim reaper Mitch McConnell in charge of the Senate and then hoping for bipartisan compromise.
Not this time around. Voters put Democrats in charge of the White House and both chambers of Congress—albeit by very narrow margins—and now they're hoping against hope Republicans won't serve as the perennial destroyers of progress they always angle to be.
Perhaps part of that public sentiment is a function of the dire times we live in. As Civiqs right tack/wrong track polling shows, Americans across the partisan spectrum tend to agree on one thing: The nation is headed in the wrong direction. Nearly three-quarters of respondents feel that way, including 68 percent of Democrats (though their outlook is improving), 73 percent of independents, and 79 percent of Republicans.
But perhaps more than anything, Americans want results. And while the Monmouth polling suggests they want Republicans to be part of the solution rather than the problem, GOP involvement may ultimately not matter so much. The bigger takeaway here is likely that if Biden and congressional Democrats deliver, that will be far more important than bipartisan compromise as long as it measurably improves the lives of most Americans.
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