Every election produces a gold mine of new data that gives insight into how the country is changing. One of the best sources for analyzing and understanding those changes is the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index, which appears shortly after every election. The newest PVI was released yesterday. For my money, there are two big takeaways: Former President Donald Trump left America more polarized than ever at the national, state, and congressional level. And despite President Joe Biden’s campaigning as a moderate unifier, that polarization could soon get worse.
It doesn’t comes as a shock that Trump divided the country—Americans weren’t exactly unified before he showed up on the scene. But the degree of polarization reached under Trump is nonetheless striking. Back in 1976, when voters routinely split their tickets, there were 124 “crossover” districts that elected a member of one party to the House of Representatives and the other party to the White House. That number shrunk to 16 in the last election: Nine Republicans were elected in districts Biden won, and seven Democrats won in districts that went for Trump.