It’s (yet more) evidence that we now hold parliamentary elections in this country, where people vote for the party, not the person. And that ticket-splitting — once considered the mark of the thoughtful voter — is now dead.
And yet, these 16 — seven Democrats in districts Donald Trump won, nine Republicans in seats Joe Biden carried — managed to buck that trend.
Here they are, with the new Cook Political Report Partisan Voting Index (PVI) score of their district included (PVI measures the partisanship of every district as compared with every other district in the country. So a PVI score of R+4 means a district voted 4 points more Republican at the presidential level than the median seat):
Iowa Rep. Cynthia Axne (PVI R+3, Trump won by 0.1% in 2020)
Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos (PVI R+2, Trump +1.6%)
Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind (PVI R+4, Trump +4.7%)
Maine Rep. Jared Golden (PVI R+6, Trump +7.4%)
Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin (PVI R+4, Trump +0.8%)
Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright (PVI R+5, Trump +4.4%)
New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim (PVI R+3, Trump +0.2%)
California Rep. David Valadao (PVI D+5, Biden won by 10.9% in 2020)
California Rep. Mike Garcia (PVI D+3, Biden +10.1%)
California Rep. Young Kim (PVI D+3, Biden +10.1%)
California Rep. Michelle Park Steel (PVI R+1, Biden +1.5%)
Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon (PVI R+1, Biden +6.5%)
Texas Rep. Beth Van Duyne (PVI R+2, Biden +5.4%)
New York Rep. John Katko (PVI D+2, Biden +9.1%)
Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PVI Even, Biden +5.8%)
Florida Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (PVI D+4, Biden +3.2%)
Two immediate observations:
1) Almost half of the Biden Republicans represent House districts in California, suggesting that the GOP might not be dead in the state yet but that Trump’s version of Republicanism definitely is.
2) Several of the Trump Democrats — Axne and Kind in particular — are talking about running for Senate in 2022, bids that, if they can keep up their cross-party appeal, could help Democrats keep their majority.
Taking a step back, it would be a very good idea for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to get together with these 16 unicorns and just, you know, pick their brains.
As in: How did you manage to break through the polarization gripping the country? Are there best practices that can be learned by members of Congress more broadly? What sorts of things should members avoid in order to keep partisanship from being totally dominant in votes?
The Point: In an era where party is everything — and where our country has suffered as a result — we have 16 living, breathing examples of how to do better. Let’s take advantage of that opportunity.