21 April 2016

Only 6% of Americans want the presidency to have more power


There has been a lot of talk amongst the political intelligentsia about the rise of an imperial presidency (a term originally coined by Arthur Schlesinger). Some have even talked about “King Barack” given his use of executive orders to deliver policies that he cannot get the Senate or House of Representatives to pass.

With President Obama arriving in Britain today – partly to meet a real (constitutional) monarch, we asked YouGov’s First Verdict panel to assess the powers of the presidency.

Asked to say if the White House should get more powers, only 6% said yes. The scores for direct democracy (43%), state governors and legislators (22%) and city and local mayors (18%) all suggest that a devolution agenda could be popular:

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 16.18.21

In terms of the gridlock that Washington is currently experiencing, 52% say President Obama must take all or part of the blame. Still more Americans – 65% – blame Republicans in Congress for the gridlock: Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 16.18.44
How do you tackle the gridlock? You probably need more voters to value politicians who are ready to make deals but compromise, as I’ve written, is often a dirty word in electoral politics. But is that what voters want? The support for politicians like Senators Ted Cruz on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left suggests, perhaps not:

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 16.18.34

For more about Portrait of America and the methodology behind First Verdict, click here.

For the complete Portrait of America catalog, click here.

Tim Montgomerie is Editor of Portrait of America