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Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Red and the Blue

At the Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib explains how the election results foster polarization on Capitol Hill:
Based on nearly complete results, of the 234 Republicans elected to the House, just 15 come from districts that the Democratic president carried, according to a running tally compiled by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. Of 201 Democrats elected, just nine come from districts Republican Mitt Romney carried.
The winner of the presidential vote is still to be determined in seven congressional districts, so the numbers will shift slightly when final votes are tallied. Suffice it to say, though, that only about 6% of House members will come from districts carried by the other party's presidential candidate, a sign of just how few actual swing districts remain.
This is the result of the fine art of modern congressional redistricting: Red districts are safely red, blue districts safely blue. There is a reason House members don't see much need to compromise with the other party.

 Not only are House members coming from reliably partisan districts, many are winning in landslides. In this fall's election, 125 House members—42 Republicans and 83 Democrats—won their districts with 70% or more of the vote.
When more than a quarter of House members win so overwhelmingly, in districts that are so safe for them, they are inclined to think they are the ones coming to Washington with a mandate to do things their way, regardless of the national election's rhetoric or outcome.
The situation is similar in the Senate. There will be 45 Republican senators in the new Congress. Only 10 of them come from states President Obama won. There will be 55 Democrats and independents who caucus with Democrats. Just 11 of them come from states Mr. Romney won.
So, roughly four of five senators come from states where the outcome of the presidential race might be interpreted as a reason for them to stay planted in a partisan corner.
Voting in that presidential race, meanwhile, was starkly partisan. President Obama won the votes of just 6% of Republicans, exit polls indicate. Mr. Romney won just 7% of Democrats.
Also note polarization in the state capitols.