Americans are deeply divided politically, so much so that polarization itself has become an issue that may overshadow the specific substantive disagreements among parties and candidates.

After all, if partisan animosity renders the government machinery dysfunctional, then it hardly matters who the people choose to operate it. So one of the big questions hanging over Tuesday’s voting, not only in the Washington area but also in other states, was whether voters would send a clear signal in favor of pragmatic, as opposed to ideological, governance.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election suggests that the answer is at least partly “Yes.”

This was not necessarily foreshadowed in the first year or two of Christie’s term, which began in 2009. The Republican governor made a national name for himself by confronting opponents, sometimes in angry language.

But the issues he tackled – educational and pension reform – were genuine. And when the time came to legislate, he proved capable of working with Democrats. His embrace of President Obama when Superstorm Sandy hit his state during the waning days of the 2012 campaign may have infuriated GOP leaders, but it was in his constituents’ interest.

You don’t have to be a fan of Christie to be impressed by his victory, just someone who believes that the entire two-party system would benefit if more Republicans were to follow his more inclusive brand of politics rather than the tea party variant.