So Who Wants To “Work Together To Get Things Done?”

Before the next wave of talk about “pragmatic” Republicans reaching out to Democrats to “get things done,” let’s take a look at what the GOP rank-and-file is signalling to its congressional leaders, via new numbers from Pew, which asked self-identified Democrats and Republicans if they’d prefer that leaders work with the other side “even if it disappoints” some party members, or instead “stand up” to the other side, even if that means “less gets done in Washington:”

[O]nly about a third of Republicans and Republican leaners (32%) want to see the GOP leadership work with Obama if it disappoints some groups of Republican supporters. About twice as many (66%) say GOP leaders should stand up to Obama even if less gets done. This reflects a shift away from wanting to see their leadership work with Obama in the wake of his reelection two years ago, but is little different than opinions among Republicans after the party’s 2010 midterm victory.

In contrast, about half (52%) of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents say Obama should try as best he can to work with Republican leadership even if it results in some disappointment among Democrats, while 43% say he should stand up on issues important to Democrats at the risk of less productivity in Washington.

There’s more of the same flashing signals elsewhere in the survey:

By a 57% to 39% margin, more Republicans and Republican leaning independents say their party’s leadership should move in a more conservative, rather than more moderate, direction. These views are little changed over the last four years.

And, as in the past, Democrats are more likely to say their party leadership should move in a more moderate direction (52% say this) than a liberal direction (41%). Yet the share saying the party should move in a liberal direction is now higher than it was following the 2010 midterms (41% today, up from 34%).

So the party whose rank-and-file wants the most conservative Republican Party in history to become more conservative, and also wants the most obstructionist congressional cadre in history to obstruct more, is the support base for all those “pragmatists” heading to Washington who want us to believe they’re determined to “get things done” come hell or high water.

I’m probably not the only one who suspects it’s all a set-up for a blame game. That’s all these folks have until such time as they have the power to impose a rigorously ideological agenda.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.