By Karl Kurtz
Writing in Sabato's Crystal Ball, Kyle Kondik notes that almost all congressional seats in the country were won by the same party that carried the presidential vote in that district:
One needs little more than just fingers and toes to count the number of House members who represent districts won by the other party’s presidential candidate in 2012. ...[J]ust 25 House members--nine Democrats and 16 Republicans--hold such “crossover” districts. Compare that to 2004, when there were 59 such seats, or 2008, when there were 83.
Although the historical data are incomplete, the 25 crossover seats are probably the fewest number after a presidential election in nearly a century. The group includes some of the longest-serving members of the House, who have established deep roots that have allowed them to fend off challengers and build strong identities in their districts. In many of these districts, the challenging party simply must play a waiting game, hoping for a retirement that creates an open seat contest.
I don't have the data to compare these congressional results to state legislative races, but I noticed something similar in looking at party control of legislatures at the legislative chamber level. In the 26 states that President Obama won, Democrats control 38 of the 52 legislative chambers. And in the 23 states that Gov. Romney won (excluding Nebraska and its nonpartisan unicameral legislature) an even more remarkable margin of chambers (44-3) went in favor of Republicans.
Like Kondik, I don't know if this is a record, but I suspect that it is at least close to one. In a forthcoming article in State Legislatures magazine, I go more deeply into the causes (and consequences) of this more polarized political landscape. But in the meantime, the always pithy Larry Sabato has a simple explanation, "The electorate itself does what the straight party levers in voting machines used to do."