Poll: Majority favors single-party control of Washington

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The 2010 Wall Street Journal survey was taken with President Obama in the White House and Democrats holding majorities in both chambers. Republicans recaptured the House in November of that year.  

Regardless of whether Obama or Mitt Romney wins the White House in November, voters are likely to be faced with divided government next year.

For Republicans to achieve single-party control with a Romney victory, the GOP would need a net gain of three seats in the Senate. That would still leave the Senate far from a filibuster-proof majority, though.

If the president were to win reelection, Democrats would need to hold their narrow majority in the Senate and net 25 seats in the House, something most political handicappers see as unlikely.

The last time The Wall Street Journal’s polling found such strong support for single-party control was in 1996, when 43 percent said they were in favor.

That year also saw voters headed to the polls with divided government, as Republicans then controlled both chambers and Democrats had President Clinton in the White House.

Budgetary fights between Clinton and GOP lawmakers led by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) caused multiple government 1995 and early 1996.

The poll's findings show that support for single-party control tends to rise in the midst of divided government. It had those numbers similarly rising in 2008, when Republicans had President George W. Bush in the White House but had lost control of both chambers in 2006.

A similar survey done by Gallup last month showed a more modest 39 percent of Americans preferring single-party control. But the Gallup numbers parallel the Journal poll’s trend upward, with Americans’ support for single-party control spiking 10 points in a year.

The uptick is a reflection of Democrats' and Independents' shift in preference, according to Gallup. Democrats’ preference for single-party control shot up 14 points in a year, while Independents’ preference went up 7 points since 2011. Republican preference stayed about the same.  

The Journal poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters and has a 3 percent margin of error. The Gallup poll surveyed 1,000 respondents and has a 4 percent margin of error.