skip to main content
Republicans Express Record Support for One-Party Control

Republicans Express Record Support for One-Party Control

Story Highlights

  • 59% of Republicans want party of president and Congress majority to match
  • Prior high was 50% in 2003
  • Relatively few Democrats compared with past say party control doesn't matter

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A record-high 59% of Republicans say it is better for the president and majority power in Congress to be from the same political party than for Congress to be controlled by a party different from the president's. That is the highest percentage of Republicans or Democrats favoring one-party control of the federal government in Gallup's trend since 2002. The prior highs saying this were 50% of Republicans in 2003 and 49% of Democrats in 2012.

Line graph. 3-party trend since 2002, previous high 48% of Republicans wanted president, Congress in same party vs. 59% now.

The trend makes it clear that members of the president's party are almost always more likely than the opposing party to say it's better to have the same party controlling the White House and Congress.

  • During George W. Bush's presidency, Republicans were significantly more likely than Democrats to prefer unified control -- 45% of Republicans vs. 28% of Democrats, on average from 2002 through 2008, desired this.

  • The pattern switched when Barack Obama took office in 2009, and from then through 2016, an average 42% of Democrats vs. 30% of Republicans said one-party control was better.

  • Since 2017, under President Donald Trump, Republicans have led Democrats by an average 53% to 30% in preferring one-party control. However, Republicans' support for this has increased sharply in the past year, from 46% in 2017 to 59% today.

  • Independents are consistently less likely than either Republicans or Democrats to favor one-party government, regardless of which party's president is in power,

As indicated above, members of the party in opposition to the president tend to be more likely to say it's better if the president and the congressional majority are from different parties. This suggests they tend to focus more on ameliorating the current political situation than on envisioning what might be their ideal.

The full responses by party from the latest poll, conducted Sept. 4-12, are as follows.

Preferences for Division of Power in Washington, by Party ID
Same party Different parties No difference
% % %
Republicans 59 14 25
Independents 26 36 33
Democrats 30 36 30
GALLUP, Sept. 4-12, 2018

Record-Few Americans Say Party Control Doesn't Matter

Overall, 36% of Americans say it's best for the country if the president and majority in Congress are from the same party, while 29% say it's best if they are from different parties and 31% say it makes no difference.

The 31% saying party control makes no difference is significantly lower than the average 37% recorded from 2002 to 2017, and is the lowest Gallup has recorded by two percentage points. This reflects fewer Republicans and Democrats than usual falling into this category, while independents' views are more similar to the past.

Line graph. Americans’ preference for party control of presidency and Congress since 2002; currently 36% prefer same party.

The last time 30% or fewer Democrats said the party match between the president and Congress didn't make much difference was in 2005 and 2006. That was amid mounting Democratic disapproval of George W. Bush over Democrats' opposition to the Iraq War, and just before the Democrats took back control of the U.S. House and Senate in the 2006 midterms.

Line graph. Democrats’ preference for party control of presidency and Congress since 2002; currently 36% want them different.

Bottom Line

As Americans prepare to vote in this year's midterm elections that will determine whether Trump will continue to work with a Republican majority in Congress, Republicans are more likely than ever to say unified control of the White House and Congress is preferable to divided government, which may give them added incentive to vote. At the same time, relatively few Democrats say the division of power doesn't matter, possibly indicating they are more motivated to have their say at the polls.

How partisans' current preferences for unified versus divided government translate into voter turnout this year remains to be seen, but as of mid-September, Republicans and Democrats were about tied in both enthusiasm and certainty to vote.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030