100 policies supported by majorities of Democrats and Republicans

Taylor OrthSenior Survey Data Journalist
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
Eli McKown-DawsonSurvey Data Journalism Intern
November 17, 2022, 8:44 PM GMT+0

The results from this year's election indicate that neither major party achieved a landslide victory in Congress: Democrats will retain control of the Senate, but with just 50 or 51 seats, while Republicans will hold at best a narrow 13-seat edge in the House. This means that politicians' best chance to get things done may be to reach across the aisle and propose legislation with bipartisan support. What sort of laws would qualify? We combed through YouGov's survey archives since the start of 2020 and found 100 policies supported by a majority of Democrats — and by a majority of Republicans.

How we chose the 100 bipartisan policies

All of the policies are based on questions YouGov asked on nationally representative polls between 2020 and 2022. Some polls were conducted in partnership with news organizations such as the Economist and Yahoo News, while others were conducted internally by YouGov’s U.S. News team. There is some variation in each poll's sample and methodology; for instance, some polls are restricted to U.S. adult citizens while others are representative of all U.S. adults. Many of the policies have been polled about more than once, on different polls, and consistently garnered bipartisan support. More detail on each policy and poll is available here. Questions were asked in a variety of formats and included a variety of response options, though all included a neutral option of "not sure" or "don't know," which means these policies all get support from at least 51% of the entire population, including people who have no opinion. Many policies included, though not all, are not currently implemented nationwide — but could be, if Congress were to take them up.

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Most of the policies included are supported by a larger share of Democrats than of Republicans. For many of the policies that call for some kind of action by a government body, this likely reflects generally greater support among Democrats than among Republicans for government intervention. 

The 100 policies fall into 10 broad topics, shown below. Some issue areas appear more likely than others to garner bipartisan support — likely a reflection of both genuine inter-party agreement and the extent to which those areas have been polled by YouGov and its media partners. Among the topics with the greatest number of policies with bipartisan support are election reform, health care, and policing. 

Education

Most educational policies we found to have bipartisan support involve increased spending on student services, school security, and teachers. Large majorities of both Democrats and Republicans support providing free lunch to low-income public school students. Similarly large shares support requiring financial-literacy courses for high-school students — already required by law in some states — and increased investment in trade schools and other college alternatives. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to favor increased spending on mental health and overdose prevention resources; Republicans are more favorable than Democrats towards increased spending on school security. 

Environment and infrastructure

One issue with overlap among Democrats and Republicans is clean water: Most from each party would like to see the replacement of lead pipes that could contaminate drinking water, and similar shares support banning coal companies from depositing mining debris in local streams. Most Americans are also in agreement when it comes to addressing food waste: Majorities would like to ban large grocery stores from throwing away unsold food or incentivize them to donate or sell it. Policies that increase protections for animals are also broadly popular, including banning the testing of chemical substances and other products on cats and dogs. This summer, the House passed a bill limiting the ownership of big cats to wildlife sanctuaries, universities, and zoos; this legislation is supported by at least half of Democrats and Republicans.

Elections and government

 Democrats and Republicans agree on a host of election-related policies, most of which relate to campaign regulations, making voting easier, and requirements for current and former elected officials. Majorities from both parties support components of the Freedom to Vote Act — recently considered in the Senate — such as making Election Day a federal holiday and requiring additional accessibility for disabled voters. Most people also favor states offering the option of straight-ticket voting — currently available in six states — which enables voters to easily select one political party's complete slate of candidates for every office. There is also bipartisan support for limiting spending on campaign advertising by outside political groups.

Several measures ensuring politicians' fitness for office are popular among members of both parties. These include setting a maximum age for elected officials and requiring presidential candidates to take a drug test, take a cognitive exam, or disclose their health records. Majorities of Democrats and Republicans also support reaffirming that the vice president has no role in validating a presidential election beyond overseeing the counting process, as well as requiring former presidents to give official documents to the National Archives. More Democrats than Republicans support the National Archives policy — known as the Presidential Records Act — which recently made headlines as a result of former President Donald Trump's alleged violations of it.

Multiple policies surrounding redistricting also receive majority support from both parties. Both Democrats and Republicans support banning lobbyists from participating in redistricting, requiring public input on proposed congressional and legislative voting districts, and requiring that redistricting is conducted by a nonpartisan redistricting commission. In the wake of contentious Supreme Court hearings and with Court approval at an all-time low, majorities of both parties support term limits for Supreme Court Justices.

Family and reproductive care

Policies designed to help parents provide care for their children — and change their diapers — are popular on both sides of the political aisle. These include requiring companies to provide paid leave to new parents, exempting diapers from state sales taxes, and requiring new or renovated buildings to include baby changing tables in bathrooms used by both men and women. 

Policies on pregnancy — preventing, losing, or ending it — also get broad support. Most Democrats and Republicans share the belief that abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest, as well as in cases where the woman’s health is endangered by the pregnancy. There is also broad support for ensuring that people who experience pregnancy loss aren't investigated by the government as a result, a scenario many have feared given recent changes to laws governing abortion.

The Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling early this year also has spurred concern over protections surrounding contraception, leading the House to pass legislation protecting Americans' right to use birth control. Beliefs that contraception should be legal — and that the government should increase access to it as well as its affordability — are bipartisan. So is requiring private health insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control — a provision included in the Affordable Care Act.

Foreign affairs and immigration

Policies in this arena that are popular with both Democrats and Republicans tend to involve moves of moderation and negotiation by the country: helping, welcoming, or aligning with specific people or nations. Majorities of both parties would welcome refugees fleeing violence in Ukraine, certain refugees from Afghanistan seeking asylum, immigrant workers verified by the E-Verify system, and Americans who were imprisoned in other countries and returned via a prisoner swap. Also popular: letting Ukraine into NATO and giving excess COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries.

Guns

Congress recently passed a bipartisan gun safety bill that, among other things, enhances background checks for prospective gun buyers under age 21 and closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole” by disqualifying anyone found guilty of a domestic violence charge in a romantic relationship — regardless of marital status — from purchasing a firearm for five years.

These provisions track closely with other policies favored by majorities in both parties, most of which involve background checks barring certain groups from purchasing firearms. Raising the minimum age to purchase assault weapons to 21 from 18 receives majority support from both Democrats and Republicans, as does preventing people with a history of mental illness from owning guns. Expanded background checks are also popular among members of both groups, including requiring criminal and mental-health background checks for all gun sales, providing juvenile records in background checks, and requiring a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases.

Although majorities in both parties support these policies, each policy is favored more highly by Democrats. Of gun policies with bipartisan support, red flag laws — which allow guns to be temporarily taken from people believed to pose a danger to themselves or others — result in the largest between-party difference. While 85% of Democrats favor such a law, only 56% of Republicans say the same.

Health care and social services

What do Democrats and Republicans want from health care? The policies that majorities of each party agree on call for a seemingly contradictory mix of both more and fewer restrictions, along with targeted additional government spending and greater pricing transparency.

The freedom to buy corrective lenses without a prescription barely clears our 50% threshold in each party; letting terminally ill people seek life-ending medication gets more support. But certain restrictions also are popular, particularly among Democrats: requiring reductions in cigarettes’ nicotine levels and requiring parents to vaccinate their children against measles. Republicans are more likely to favor letting states outlaw travel to other states for medical treatments banned in their own state — a legislative route taken by some states with newly restrictive abortion laws — as well as banning certain cosmetic procedures for kids.

Money also is a theme in popular health care proposals: more of it from the government — for medical debt relief, covering dental bills with Medicare, and giving kids free health care when their parents can’t afford it. These are all more popular with Democrats. About the same share of Democrats and Republicans back another financial policy: requiring prescription drug makers to disclose price information in television commercials.

Increasing social services to support many of society's most vulnerable members — people who are elderly, disabled, or homeless — are popular among members of both parties. Large shares favor expanding in-home care services for older Americans and for people with disabilities. Most also agree on a variety of measures to address homelessness, including incentivizing developers to build more low-income housing, creating emergency rental-assistance programs, funding counseling services for people with mental illness, and creating rehabilitation programs to address addiction.

Policing and crime 

While party leaders often frame police funding and oversight as a highly polarizing issue, we find that many policing reforms are popular among Americans in each major party. Polling conducted after a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd in 2020 finds bipartisan majority support for mandating body cameras, banning chokeholds, and requiring police to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force. Majorities also favor greater documentation of police misconduct and use of force, including creating a national registry to track police misconduct, requiring police departments to report data on use of force, and requiring individual officers to document instances in which they point a gun at someone. Additional training for police on how to de-escalate conflicts and avoid using force is also popular among members of each party. Police quotas requiring that officers make at least a certain number of stops, tickets, or arrests within a defined period of time are seen as a bad idea by both Democrats and Republicans.

There is also consensus on outlawing certain types of behavior that imply or encourage violence, such as joking about having a bomb while on an airplane or encouraging a person to kill themselves. Vast majorities of Democrats and Republicans — 80% of each group — support requiring hospitals and police to submit rape kits to labs for testing within a certain time frame. Democrats and Republicans also agree on reforms to sex abuse and the clergy: Majorities say members of the clergy should be required to report plausible cases of child abuse, even if they were told about the abuse in a spiritual confession — something that is currently not required in many states. Large shares also believe it should be illegal for a clergy member to exploit an adult congregant’s emotional dependency on them for sex.

Technology

One area where Democrats and Republicans find common ground is in their support for greater regulation of technology and social media companies. Most favor greater consumer control over targeted advertising on social media platforms, and majorities believe social media companies should be prevented from collecting data on users under 18. Large shares of Americans in both parties want the government to crack down on social media bots and robocallers. More broadly, members of each party believe the government should ensure Americans have access to high-speed Internet. Most Americans also desire greater consistency when it comes to hardware: Majorities favor requiring smartphone manufacturers to use a common charging connector, a policy recently enacted in the European Union

Work and corporations 

Many Americans desire greater government oversight of large corporations. This includes conducting antitrust probes into major companies and closing loopholes that allow companies to create offshore tax havens. Most Democrats and Republicans are in favor of raising the minimum wage to at least $9 an hour, and majorities believe that companies convicted of wage theft should be banned from bidding on government contracts. While there is generally little bipartisan agreement on policies relating to transgender issues, majorities in each party do support employment protections that would make it illegal for companies to fire — or refuse to hire — a person because they are transgender. There is also Democratic and Republican support for investment in the nation's workforce: Majorities would like to see the government provide advanced training for people working in manufacturing and other industries, and most favor increasing the number of national-service positions in organizations such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

Methodology 

Interviewing dates: The data is from dozens of YouGov surveys conducted between 2020 and 2022. See the data — including survey dates, question-wording, and links to the full data and methodology for each question — here.

Sampling method: Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in Internet panel to be representative either of U.S. adults or of U.S. adult citizens. 

Weighting: The samples were weighted according to factors such as gender, age, race, education, election turnout, presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status.

Identifying Democrats and Republicans: Democrats and Republicans were identified based on their response to the question: “Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a…?”

Rounding: Total percentages for questions that required aggregating two response options (such as “strongly support” and “somewhat support”) were calculated after rounding.

Image: Getty (ZargonDesign)