Why Republicans Don't Compromise

GOP voters value standing on principle far more than Democrats and independents do.
More
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The government shutdown is entering its second week with no end in sight. Rather than relent, as Democrats had hoped, Republicans appear to have dug in.

A recent poll sheds some light on why this is happening. YouGov, polling for The Economist, asked Americans whether they want a member of Congress who "compromises to get things done" or one who "sticks to their principles no matter what." Democrats and independents, by wide margins, chose compromise. But a slim majority of Republicans preferred standing on principle.

Source: YouGov for The Economist

Republicans, it seems, are different: They value compromise far less and principle far more than other Americans. In refusing to give ground, then, Republican politicians are reflecting their base's priorities.

This result helps explain more than just GOP intransigence, it seems to me. It also helps explain the parties' mutual incomprehension. Since Democrats value compromise by such an overwhelming margin, they assume their opponents do too. But Republicans, it turns out, think a bit differently.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Molly Ball is a staff writer covering national politics at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In