Americans of all political stripes agree that attempts at bipartisanship in Washington are a good thing, but expectations that such efforts are likely to be successful on upcoming major legislation are low in a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.
All told, 87% say that attempts at bipartisanship are a good thing, including 92% of Democrats, 90% of independents and 77% of Republicans. But 60% say they see bipartisanship as unlikely on upcoming legislation, including 50% of Democrats, 60% of independents and 76% of Republicans. And although Democrats are more optimistic about the success of bipartisanship, they aren’t particularly confident it will happen: Just 6% see it as very likely to happen, about the same as among independents (7%) and Republicans (4%).
Asked whether Democrats in Congress should “work across the aisle to get things done in Washington, even if it means losing out on some high-priority policies” or “stand firm on their beliefs without compromise, even if it means not much gets done in Washington,” 74% choose working across the aisle. A similar 72% feel the same way about Republicans in Congress, and 71% say President Joe Biden should try to work across the aisle.
Partisans seem to agree on the merits of bipartisanship even when they are considering how they want members of Congress on their own side of the aisle to behave.
Among Democrats, 83% say that Republicans in Congress should compromise, and 66% also say that Democrats in Congress should compromise. It’s similar among Republicans: 86% would like to see Democrats compromise and 60% want their own party to compromise. About three-quarters of independents say they want each party to compromise rather than stand firm.
Combining the results for both parties in Congress, a total of 61% of all adults say they want both Democrats and Republicans to work across the aisle, with about 1 in 10 each saying they prefer one side to stand firm while the other compromise (11% want Republicans to stand firm and Democrats to compromise, 10% want the Democrats to stand firm while Republicans compromise), and 9% prefer that both parties hold firm. Agreement on compromise is consistent within parties, too: 62% of Democrats say they want both sides to compromise, as do 58% of Republicans.
About 3 in 10 approve of the way Congress is handling its job (31%), the largest share to approve of the legislative branch in CNN polling since April 2009.
Democrats took control of the Senate in January, meaning the party now controls both chambers of Congress. And Democrats are more likely than others to say they approve of Congress (47% of Democrats approve compared with 30% of independents and 11% of Republicans). At the 100-day mark of Donald Trump’s presidency, when the GOP held control of both the House and the Senate, the situation was reversed, with 37% of Republicans approving along with 19% of independents and 18% of Democrats.
The methodology and weighting for this poll have been modified compared with CNN polls conducted before 2021. Interviews conducted on cell phones made up 75% of the total, up from 65% in prior surveys. Dialing extended over six days rather than four days, allowing for more effort to be made to contact those who are not easily reachable. Demographic weighting was adjusted to account for more discrete education categories broken out by race, and a geographic weight was applied to ensure representative distribution by population density. In addition, results were weighted for partisan identification and lean among independents, with targets computed using an average of the current poll plus four recent CNN polls.
The new CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS April 21 through 26 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.