Has partisan voting been a dominant pattern in Congress?
I would say that partisanship in terms of Congressional voting has become a part of the landscape of national politics. It certainly was a dominant pattern in the last four years. The makeup of Congress has been staunchly defined in terms of party affiliation. Moderates like Olympia Snowe were essentially forced to step down because the excess in partisanship voting has made their political viability challenging. The partisanship in the last four years has helped to define Congress as an environment where cooperation and compromise were frowned upon in favor of staunch defense, almost to the point of obstructionism. This has become evident on both sides, contributing to a dominant pattern being created. When Senate Leader Mitch McConnell makes the point that a part of his agenda is to make the President a "one term President," this helps to feed the partisanship in voting. The Congressional vote on the Affordable Health Care Act was a strong demonstration of partisanship. Such views of the political landscape do not lend themselves to bipartisanship, rather embracing the strength in taking refuge in the most obstructionist elements of both parties. It is in this landscape where I think that partisan voting has become a dominant pattern in Congress.