The Divided Government Canard

Hendrik Hertzberg makes a very good point about the canard of divided government:

Actually, “people”—a majority of voters, or even a nontrivial minority—never “intend” divided government. Most people always vote straight Democratic or straight Republican, which means that most people always vote to put one party in charge. They may disagree about which party, and they would rather have their party control part of the government than none of it, but almost all of them prefer undivided government. This year, as usual, “people” wanted one party to run the whole show. That party was the Democrats. Republican House candidates won more seats, but Democratic House candidates won more votes—in the aggregate, about a million more.

The only thing I would add is that the appearance of division often occurs due to different “peoples” showing up every couple of years. The electorate of 2008 did not have the same composition as the electorate of 2010. Rather than viewing this as a result of disbanding an impressive Democratic get-out-the-vote operation in 2009, this was incorrectly viewed as an ideological shift–the rise of the Tea Party and so forth.

Something to keep in mind for 2014.

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1 Response to The Divided Government Canard

  1. Pingback: How language “divides” us. « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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