A Divided government is one in which the presidency and the Congress are controlled by different parties. For example, in the last six years of the Clinton administration, 1995-2001, the presidency was controlled by the Democrats, while the Congress was Republican controlled.
Many commentators suggest that a divided government may be the best state for the United States, since each party then serves as a watchdog on the other.
Statistics show that the economy grows at a higher rate during divided government than with either party in control of both branches of government. This is sometimes attributed to the gridlock effect, in which each party blocks the other party's spending. For example, undivided Republican control (2002-2006) under the leadership of George W. Bush resulted in budget deficits.
Also, in the Clinton administration the years of undivided Democratic control resulted in budget deficits, while the years of divided government resulted in a budget surplus, the first significant surplus in the post-World War II era.