When reading one of the endless stories about a just-released poll Thursday night, a pair of numbers struck my eye: 60 and 37.
Those were the percentages of white voters supporting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll. Overall, the poll showed Romney leading Obama 50 to 47 percent.
The reason those two numbers struck my eye is that they are identical to the percentages of white voters supporting Republicans and Democrats in elections for the House of Representatives in the 2010 exit poll. Overall, Republicans won the House popular vote by a margin of 52 to 45 percent, tied with 1994 for the best Republican showing since 1946.
In fact, it's the Republicans' biggest margin among white voters in House elections ever since the party was formed in 1854. Republican presidential candidates have won by bigger margins among whites only in 1920, 1972 and 1984.
Some will ascribe this to racism. But Barack Obama won enough votes from whites to win with 53 percent in 2008, more than any other Democratic nominee except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
Why are whites more one-sidedly partisan than just about ever before? Maybe because they're constantly being told that they're headed toward becoming a minority of the electorate. Self-conscious minorities tend to vote more cohesively.
Or because they're the objects of racial discrimination in, among other things, university admissions, as documented by Richard Sandler and Stuart Taylor in their recent book, "Mismatch."
Republicans are often told that their party is headed toward minority status because of the rising numbers of heavily Democratic non-whites. Many analysts, even the perspicacious Ron Brownstein of National Journal, tend to lump all non-whites together.
But the three categories of non-whites — blacks, Hispanics and Asians — are strikingly different in partisan terms.
Blacks, 13 percent of the electorate in 2008 and 11 percent in 2010, are almost unanimously Democratic and remain so this year. They've been about 90 percent Democratic since 1964.
But they are not a rising percentage of the population. And in post-Obama America, they may find themselves split on issues, with some switching parties, as members of other ethnically defined groups have done historically.
Even this year, they tend to oppose same-sex marriage, the opposite of the position Obama took last May.