Democrats, Republicans Make Plans To Mingle At SOTU : It's All Politics The idea of bipartisan seating at the State of the Union is favored by 72% of the public. That means lawmakers have a lot more to gain than lose by sitting with members of the opposing party. And once the speech is over, they can get back to sniping.
NPR logo Democrats, Republicans Make Plans To Mingle At SOTU

Democrats, Republicans Make Plans To Mingle At SOTU

In the Washington version of the biblical lions lying down with the lambs, at least for a night, many donkeys and elephants have made their plans to sit together Tuesday evening for the State of the Union.

Among those who will be crossing the aisles which serve as demilitarized zones in the House chamber, will be Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, who plans to sit next to Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican. Her fellow New Yorker, Sen. Charles Schumer will sit next to Oklahoma's Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the entire Colorado delegation will sit as one in the chamber, the AP said.

The idea for the bipartisan seating originally came from Jon Cowan, president of Third Way, a group meant to bridge the partisan divide. It was then picked up by Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, who sent a letter to his colleagues asking them to come together, at least for a night, to change the optics of the night.

Instead of the usual hyper partisan show, with one side cheering the president of their party and the other sitting on their hands, the thought was it would be more inspiring for the nation to see their lawmakers disregarding their partisan stripes by sitting together.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll released Friday indicates that almost three quarters of the public wants Democrats and Republicans to mix it up in a good way Tuesday evening. That means there's a lot more to gain than lose from changing up the usual seating arrangements. Who knows? this could be the start of a new tradition.

Of course, moments after the speech ends, the bipartisan mood is likely to end as lawmakers race for Statuary Hall to lob their caustic soundbites against the other side.