It’s all over; let the parsing commence. The political equivalent of skiing in fresh powder-commentators out doing themselves to find the most compelling, counterintuitive narrative to explain “what just happened”-is now the sport of the moment. David Brooks is in there early. Having been the commentator who did most to popularise the notion of an exurban revolt in 2004, this time he sees three seismic shifts:
Economically, it marks the end of the Long Boom, which began in 1983. Politically, it probably marks the end of conservative dominance, which began in 1980. Generationally, it marks the end of baby boomer supremacy, which began in 1968.
Not to be outdone, here are some quick, mid-morning thoughts on last night.
First, don’t entirely write off the divided nation. Obama won, but he didn’t “win big.” He is likely to win fewer electoral college votes than Clinton in either 1992 (370) or 1996 (379.) His 52 per cent of the vote, while a clear mandate, is only a single percentage point more than Bush in 2004. In short, after two close polls and the embedding of a notion that liberals must always win or lose by inches, this is not an epic change in the political georgraphy of the United States. It is what a relatively normal Democratic victory look like.
Second, while McCain clearly ran a poor campaign, he did no worse than median expectations. Indeed, he did better than Bush Snr, and Bob Dole, in their respective defeats. Very few of the “stretch” targets for the Obama campaign fell. Florida went, as did Elizabeth Dole’s Senate seat. But Georgia and South Carolina didn’t. Equally, some wilder hopes—Democrats to pick up the Senate seat of Mitch McConnell, for instance—also didn’t come to pass.
Third, the most significant change of the election will be the swing away from the Republicans in the mountain west—in which Colorado, especially, went strongly for Obama. In an election whose headlines focus on race, it is Latino voters, a fast growing demographic now vital in American elections, who will have made the difference. That said, some of the bigger changes in Latino voting patterns appear not to have happened. Despite carrying Florida, Democrats do not seem to have taken a number of closely watched southern Florida congressional races, in which traditionally right-wing Cuban Americans…