The Blame Game: Who's At Fault For Partisanship?

Ahead of the White House's bipartisan health care summit, CNN has a new poll out this morning in which respondents lay blame for Washington's uber-partisan culture, and there's no clear distaste for one party more than the other.

The results show respondents essentially split on which party is to blame for the partisan atmosphere in D.C.--35% said Democrats, 37% said Republicans, and 25% said both--although the needle moves when the question is posed as President Obama vs. congressional Republicans, as respondents think Obama is doing more to cooperate with Republicans in Congress than vice versa:

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Respondents said Democrats should give up more than Republicans for the sake of bipartisanship--51% said Democrats should give up more of the proposals they support, while 43% said Republicans--and the poll showed similar results when it comes to which party should take the first step in reaching out to the other side.

What does this tell us? For one, that Obama and congressional Republicans have their own dynamics when it comes to public opinion, and that the president performs better than his party does. It also shows that congressional Republicans' opposition to the president's agenda might not be winning them any points--even though it's generally taken for granted that obstructionism has been an effective strategy for them.

At the same time, people want Democrats to do the reaching out. Congressional Republicans may be unpopular, but Democrats, for now, are stuck with them and will be held accountable for the results. Despite the GOP's seeming recalcitrance, poll respondents wanted Democrats to cede ground and make things happen.

Democrats are being held accountable for Washington's partisan culture, and the health care summit--which was their idea--may offer them a chance to win some ground in this whole scheme.