(CNN)Ask anyone how they vote and you are likely to get an answer something like this: “I vote for the best person — regardless of party.”
That is a lie. Or at least a bit of self-delusion.Here’s why:* 94 out of the 100 US senators are of the same party as the presidential candidate who won their state in 2020.* 419 out of the 435 House members (96%) elected in 2020 are of the same party as the presidential candidate who won their district. Read More* 38 of the 50 states (76%) have single-party control, meaning the governor and the majorities in the state House and state Senate are of the same party.Those figures come courtesy of Doug Sosnik, a longtime Democratic strategist, as part of a broader look at the first 100 days of 2021 in politics.
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I’ll add one more to Doug’s data: In the 2020 election, only one of the 35 Senate seats up for election went for one party at the presidential level and the other at the Senate level.That one was Maine, where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 9 points but Republican Sen. Susan Collins cruised to a 9-point win over her (highly touted) Democratic opponent.The takeaway is obvious: We are now a nation that votes for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back. Put another way: We now closely resemble the British parliamentary system, in which votes are cast for the political party not the individual candidate.As Sosnik puts it: “[The] unifying force in American politics is the opposition to the other political party.”This isn’t new. The roots of our current polarization can be traced back to (at least) the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. The gap between how partisans viewed George W. Bush and Barack Obama regularly broke records.Trump, of course, dumped a warehouse’s worth of lighter fluid on that partisan fire over his four years in office.Polarization is likely to get worse before it gets better. “The Democratic Party’s ascendent left and a Republican Party dominated by Trumpism will increase partisanship,” predicts Sosnik.The Point: It’s hard to disagree with him.