2020 Public Opinion Survey

Disagreements among the political parties may persist for the foreseeable future. Alongside their philosophical differences, Republicans and Democrats disagreed about the practical advantages of compromise.

  • When asked whether members of Congress should "compromise with their opponents to get something done" or "stand up for their principles no matter what, 73 percent of Democrats indicated they favored compromise, but only 48 percent of Republicans felt the same.

"It is noteworthy that Democrats and Republicans value different aspects of America's representative government," said Lee H. Hamilton, former Indiana congressman who served in the House of Representatives from 1965 to 1999 and founder of IU's Center on Representative Government.

These differences, Hamilton added, "may make it more difficult for Congress to reach negotiated compromises and instead may lead to legislative and policy gridlock."

Carmines said these results represent a disappointing departure from recent trends. Just last year, Republicans and Democrats -- for the first time in 13 years of data collection -- appeared to agree that bipartisanship represented the best path forward. In November 2019, 58 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of Democrats supported compromise when asked the same question.

About Indiana University Center on Representative Government

The Center on Representative Government is a non-partisan, educational institution that has developed an extensive array of free civics education resources and activities to improve the public’s understanding of the role of representative government, to strengthen civic engagement, and to teach the skills that are essential to sustaining our form of representative democracy.

Edward G. Carmines, Professor of Political Science
(812) 855-5065

The findings are based on a nationwide survey of 1,000 respondents conducted in October and November 2020 by the internet polling firm YouGov. The questions were asked of 871 respondents that completed the post-election wave of the questionnaire.
Note: Cell entries are proportions. Missing cases dropped; survey weights applied. Marginal row-and-column totals may not add to 1.0, due to rounding error.

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