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More than 140 million Americans made their own personal decisions when they voted in this year’s election. Now, it becomes the unenviable job of the commentators to explain the “meaning” of those choices.

At the broadest level, it is fair to say that the vote was a repudiation of Donald Trump. Presidents rarely lose their bids for reelection — only five have in the past 125 years — and Trump seems on track to lose the presidency. And he will lose the popular vote by a larger margin than when Jimmy Carter defeated incumbent Gerald Ford in the wake of Watergate.

And yet, it’s obvious that the country remains deeply divided. After an impeachment, a pandemic and the worst economic paralysis since the Great Depression, Republicans overwhelmingly voted for their party, and Democrats did the same. Polarization is now deep, tribal and existential — largely unaffected by events or job performance. In fact, as when things get bad in sports, it seems to have become a greater test of loyalty to stay with your team.

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