13 months from the 2024 election, the American voter is torn – and no, it’s not just the partisan divide.
Voters want more compromise in their politics, but just so long as those who DON’T agree with them are the ones compromising. Voters believe more civility is the road to a brighter future, but simultaneously believe that their personal values are under attack – be it from the left or the right.
Needless to say, the latest iteration of the Georgetown Institute of Politics Battleground Poll sheds some light on the mindset of voters right now, but also raises more questions than answers as to how we move forward.
The bipartisan poll seeks to track what is most important to voters across parties, with this iteration focusing a large portion of focus on what SHOULD be the goal of politicians in Washington. 83% of respondents agree that compromise and common ground should be the goal for political leaders, a hopeful outlook juxtaposed by the next question. 82% also agree that they are tired of leaders compromising their values and ideals and want leaders who will stand up to the other side.
Well look no further than Congress to see how this attitude plays out. Over recent weeks in the buildup to the shutdown that never came, swaths of the country were calling for legislators to reach some kind of agreement, keep the government open, and move forward. And yet both sides of the aisle held their ground, throwing shots at the other side and sometimes at each other.
Whether it was over the national debt and spending numbers or Ukraine funding or the innumerable other issues each caucus proclaims as their ultimate goal, Republicans in the House put forth bills that Democrats refused to vote for and hardline Republicans rejected outright.
Again, people want compromise (i.e. a not shutdown government) but aren’t willing to make the compromise to do so. Democrats in the minority don’t want a “bad vote” to be used against them in campaign season, while hardline Republicans fear being labeled as a dreaded RINO for working across the aisle to secure Democrat votes.
The drama over recent weeks, drama that will continue now until at least November 17th, is just a glimpse into the mindset of not only the legislators making decisions, but the opinions of their constituents. This debate has been a game of chicken, with neither side willing to blink.
Adding fuel to the fire is another nugget from the poll: 72% of respondents feel their personal values are under attack, hardly a good starting point to have a civil conversation about the future of the nation. That number cuts across Republicans and Democrats and highlights a need to turn down the volume on the vitriol campaigns have adopted as normal. Certainly not helping the problem is the explosion of social media, and the shift of younger audiences to get their sources from these highly curated, highly targeted sources. Voters also made their feelings on social media VERY clear in this poll, with 68% of respondents saying they had little to no respect for large social media platforms, 35% of respondents having no respect at all for them.
So what is the American voter looking for? A legislator who will stand up to the opposition but will approach legislating from a civil point of view, willing to compromise on issues as long as they are not the issues important to ME.
And who is that politician? Your guess is as good as mine.