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)

Why Did I Study Physics?

In this hand-drawn animation, a college graduate explains why she chose her major—and what it taught her about herself.


Elsewhere on the web

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

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In