Public Preferences for Bipartisanship in the Policymaking Process

Public Preferences for Bipartisanship in the Policymaking Process

By
Laurel Harbridge, Neil Malhotra, Brian F. Harrison
Legislative Studies Quarterly. August
2014, Vol. 39, Issue 3, Pages 327–355,

At a time of a high level of polarization in Congress, public opinion surveys routinely find that Americans want politicians to compromise. When evaluating legislation, does the preference for bipartisanship in the legislative process trump partisan identities? We find that it does not. We conduct two experiments in which we alter aspects of the political context to see how people respond to parties (not) coming together to achieve broadly popular public policy goals. Although citizens can recognize bipartisan processes, preferences for bipartisan legislating do not outweigh partisan desires in the evaluation of public policies.