split-ticket voting 

Split ticket voting occurs when voters choose candidates from different political parties in various elections simultaneously. This phenomenon was once common in the United States but has significantly decreased in recent years. In 2016, all Senate races aligned with the presidential election results for the first time in modern US politics. The trend almost repeated in 2020, except for Republican Susan Collins retaining her Senate seat in a state that voted for Biden. This contrasts with historical voting patterns. For instance, in the 1982 midterms, Democrats won most Senate contests in states previously won by Reagan. A similar trend is observed in recent House elections. In 2020, only 16 districts split their votes, representing less than 4% of House districts. In 2016, just 35 House districts voted for a presidential candidate from a different party than their elected House representative. Despite these trends, there are exceptions like Democrat Collin Peterson from Minnesota's 7th District, who won re-election in 2016 despite strong Trump support in his district. Noteworthy about Peterson is his conservative stance, long tenure, and eventual defeat in 2020 against a Republican challenger. Personalities continue to influence voter choices in US politics, with factors such as candidate likability and experience playing a crucial role.

Split ticketing is often linked to several key reasons: - It showcases a preference for individual personalities over party affiliations in certain cases. - Historically, US parties have been quite diverse, though this is less true today. - The abundance of elected positions provides ample opportunities to split one's vote. The primary outcomes of split ticketing are threefold. Firstly, it can result in 'divided government' at either the state or national level. Secondly, it may lead to split Senate delegations, where each party has one senator. While less common now, in the 2020–22 Senate, states like Ohio, Montana, and West Virginia had split Senate representation. Lastly, as evidenced by Peterson, it can impact voting patterns and actions. Elected officials from split regions must be cautious in their voting decisions and level of support for the president. Notably, some Republican senators from 'split states' were among the least ardent supporters of Trump. The decline in split ticketing can be attributed to the growing ideological gap between Democrats and Republicans on core political values. Additionally, Americans today are more consistently aligned with either liberal or conservative viewpoints than in the past. Put simply, the United States has become more partisan, highly polarized, and less inclined to vote across party lines.