* Of the 234 House Republicans elected on Nov. 6, 2012, just 39 — or 16.6 percent — were reelected with 55 percent of the vote or less, the traditional benchmark for vulnerability in future general elections. Of that same group, only 15 of the 234 — 6 percent — represent districts that Obama won in the 2012 election. (Ninety-six percent of Democrats represent districts Obama won.) Those numbers make a clear political case that the only danger for most GOP members of the House is in a primary, not a general election. And, the best way to avoid a primary is to hold the ideological line on any and everything. Compromise with Democrats is the quickest and best way to shorten a career. The best example of that new political reality? The fact that Boehner couldn’t even get his plan that would have raised taxes on those making $1 million and more to the floor of the House late last year.
* Polarization in the country is at an all-time high. In Pew polling conducted since 1987 that tests Democrats and Republicans on four dozen values questions, there is an 18-point gap in how the two sides respond — the largest ever measured. That includes a 41 percent difference in how Democrats and Republicans view the “social safety net” (it was a 23-point margin in 1987) and a 39 percent chasm on the environment. The vast majority of the increased polarization has come in the past decade — during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. According to the Pew study: “Both parties have become smaller and more ideologically homogeneous…[the] values gap between Republicans and Democrats is now greater than gender, age, race or class divides.”