Voters face a series of tough decisions in less than six weeks.
Not only do they have to choose a new president, but they also have to elect people to fill all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, and choose 34 Senators as well.
Besides the relative merits and demerits of the individual candidates on all these levels, voters must decide whether to support the Republican or Democratic agenda based on the majorities in Congress and the winner of the presidential election.
That adds one more important question for voters. Should those all come from the same political party?
Do Americans want divided government that would require a broad consensus for action, or do they want to issue a mandate for change that bypasses the opportunity for obstruction?
Gallup offers a surprising answer. In a survey taken the same week as the presidential debates, support for divided government hit its lowest point in the fifteen years that Gallup has polled on the question.
Only one in five believe splitting power between the two parties is necessary, while those who want one-party government just barely missed hitting a new high at 36 percent.
Some of this change is self-serving, at least when looking at the data from a partisan perspective. Republicans took firm control of the House in 2010, a situation that looks unlikely to change until at least the next census and reapportionment in 2020. Despite having a disadvantage in Senate races, it now looks as though the GOP has a relatively realistic chance of holding its Senate majority; Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight puts the odds at 43.9 percent.
All Republicans need for one-party government is a Donald Trump victory, so it’s not much of a surprise to see support for single-party governance go up from 36 percent in 2012 to 42 percent now.
Conversely, with Democrats having no chance to win control of the House and seeing the odds slip on winning the Senate, the nine-point drop in support for one-party governance to 40 percent in the past four years is very understandable.