When legislators answer to such solidly Republican or Democratic constituencies, they are more prone to engage in divisive antics such as those seen in recent weeks.
"We really are a red and blue nation," says Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Mann. "We separate ourselves. We tend to associate with people who think like we do."
The result, he says, is "more and more separation of Democrats and Republicans with distinctive sets of values and world views and then an attachment — almost a tribalistic attachment — to party that leads them to accept whatever the party position seems to be."
Winston thinks voters still have an expectation, though, that their legislators can find a way to both represent their constituents' views and effectively govern.
"It's not so much polarization, it's just that there are real differences of opinion," he says. "How do you work through that and create policy that both sides feel is moving things forward?"
Democratic pollster Peter Hart, too, thinks people still expect their legislators to find constructive solutions to the country's problems. He expects them to make that clear in the 2014 elections.
Says Hart: "My guess is that overall, there will be more change, more volatility, because this manufactured crisis made voters lose faith in the system and recognize that it just did not have to happen."
AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report. Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nbenac
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