Americans want the federal government to move beyond the persistent partisan polarization in Washington and address our nation’s most pressing problems. But with the two major political parties perpetually at odds, it may seem that there is no common ground.
But if you look beyond Washington and go straight to the American people, you will find that Republicans and Democrats share substantial common ground.
This is the conclusion of an ongoing project of Voice of the People that seeks to identify policy positions that have bipartisan public support. The project has so far found over 150 common ground positions on a wide range of issues.
The common ground of the people is a foundation on which the parties can build, without having to abandon their bases.
The analysis of public opinion is conducted by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) at the University of Maryland. It draws not on standard polls, but in-depth surveys in which respondents receive briefings on key policy proposals and evaluate pro and con arguments for each, only then making their recommendations. Expert opponents and proponents of each policy review the content of the surveys, ensuring that the briefings are accurate and balanced, and the arguments are the strongest possible ones. As a result, the support these policies elicit is resilient and not likely to fade as soon as someone hears a counter argument.
The majority of the findings are from PPC, which conducts its surveys online so that respondents can take whatever time they need to fully consider the briefings and arguments. Others are from the “deliberative polls” of the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University which include an in-person event with briefings and discussions.