Why Republicans Don't Compromise

GOP voters value standing on principle far more than Democrats and independents do.
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.

Presented by

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

Photos of New York City, in Motion

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this flip-book tour of the Big Apple.

Join the Discussion

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

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Photos of New York City, in Motion

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this flip-book tour of the Big Apple.

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Politics

Just In