05 November 2008

Post-Election Thoughts

So it's finally over. I'm less elated than relieved. But a little bit elated too. Since I've been trying to give up the dark art of punditry, a fundamentally useless activity that takes up too much of the time of too many smart people, I'll confine myself to a few empirical observations.

1. Barack Obama won this election decisively. As of this writing, with around 97% of the votes counted, he has received over 52% of the popular vote, the second-highest portion for a new president in the past 40 years, and the highest percentage of any Democratic candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. If his 12,000 vote lead in North Carolina holds, he'll wind up with 364 electoral college votes, a two-to-one supermajority.

2. The G.O.P. suffered a total wipeout in the northeastern third of the country, with McCain losing the entire New England and mid-Atlantic regions, as well as a continuous stream of states extending as far south as North Carolina and as far west as Minnesota and Iowa. Normally close states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin went to Obama by double digits. Even Indiana went for the Democrats, for the first time since 1964. With the defeat of Connecticut's Christopher Shays, the Republicans now hold no House seats anywhere in New England (they still have both Senate seats in Maine), and only 3 out of 29 seats in New York state.

3. The polls were right. Obama won the election by about six percentage points in the popular vote, solidly within the range predicted by most pre-election polls. The only battleground states where results deviated significantly from pre-election polling averages were Nevada and Indiana, where Obama did about five points better than expected, winning a larger-than-predicted majority in Nevada and pulling an upset in the Hoosier state.