How Partisan Conflict in Congress Affects Public Opinion: Strategies, Outcomes, and Issue Differences

D. J. Flynn, Laurel Harbridge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Scholars are increasingly interested in how partisan conflict in Congress affects public evaluations of institutional performance. Yet, existing research overlooks how the public responds to one of the most widely discussed consequences of partisan conflict: legislative gridlock. We develop expectations about how partisan conflict resulting in partisan wins, losses, and gridlock will affect evaluations of Congress, and how these relationships will differ across consensus and non-consensus issues. Results from two survey experiments indicate that partisan conflict resulting in a victory for one’s own party boosts approval relative to compromise, but conflict resulting in gridlock substantially damages approval. However, the degree to which gridlock decreases approval hinges on the type of policy under consideration. On consensus issues, citizens reward legislative action by either party—their party or the opposing party—over gridlock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-902
Number of pages28
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Volume44
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Keywords

  • Congress
  • gridlock
  • partisanship
  • public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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