Here are some immediate thoughts arising out of last evening's festivities the night ended earlier than I had feared it might; that said, it takes time to formulate useful, cohesive impressions or ascribe enduring meaning to the outcomes.
This was the election that demonstrated the truly diverse society that the US has become. 2008 might have been dismissed for its near-Messianic flavor, but this time it was a long slog through recession, disappointment, rancor and policy paralysis that produced a more clear-eyed demonstration of that phenomenon. Grim determination replaced euphoria. Despite Mr. Obama's flaws laid bare by four years of testing and close scrutiny, his only semi-popular health care reform centerpiece, the sluggish economy, lingering war and, yes, his race he won against a patrician candidate straight out of Central Casting. The fiddler fell off the roof; tradition took a beating. America firmly, finally(?) revealed itself to be a salad bowl of disparate flavors, no longer a consensus of assimilated white breaded culture. Appealing mainly to that latter segment and winning it handily, as Mr. Romney did -- won't be enough, probably ever again.
Does that unfamiliar loss-of-Control by those accustomed to being in-charge explain some of the extreme rhetoric and fantastical claims made against this President? I think so your mileage may vary.
That said, I was struck by the continuing depth of the divide demonstrated by state results. Those states that went for Mr. Romney Really went for him, and vice versa. The closely-contested battleground states were few, and far apart. That could portend a continuing stalemate at the federal level, as those who represent The Coasts and The Middle all believe that they have a mandate from their voters. Did the larger message of the public's disgust with recent results get lost? We'll see.
Nate Silver is an absolute rock star. His 538.com predictions humbled the gut-bucket pundits and proved that it's useful to be good at numbers. He absorbed more than his share of pre-election scorn for his predictions: borrowing a line from Moneyball "the first one through the wall always gets bloodied" but being right really IS the best revenge.
$2 billion? There has just got to be a better way.
An Electoral College vote of 332 206 in a contest whose popular vote was within 2%? There has got to be a better way there, too. I am tired of being attended-to only when being shaken-down. And as much as I enjoyed the bantering, the accents and the geography lessons associated with making calls into exotic cantons of Wisconsin and Nevada, I'd rather campaign locally. I also believe that ¾ of the phones in those states were left off-the-hook yesterday. Finally, there's something about an election of this magnitude hinge-ing on the fickle affections of a disaffected few Ohio-Undecideds that ought scare everyone (even them).
As to local results, if I am any good at math (not a great bet), it appears that Danville was a dead heat within fewer than 40 votes. Both sides: take note.
'Tis said that the Supreme Court reads the Sunday papers, meaning in part that they are aware that they lack an army to enforce their rulings. Gay marriage finally broke-through this time, with at least two wins, and possibly a table-running four. Does that bode well for the proponents of same-sex marriage in the Prop 8 case on appeal from the 9th circuit? It cannot hurt.
There is no doubt that most of the opaque SuperPAC millions opposed the Dems in general, and the Prez in particular. Do you know how it feels to have flushed that much dough? Me neither I wonder how that outcome will affect future donor patterns. My only regret is that Big Money's ineffectiveness may dull the appeal of an Amendment to overturn 'Citizens United.' That needs doing.
Another area ripe for reform is the woefully dangerous lack of constancy around voting rights. Voter suppression is anti-democracy, and can we all now admit that those voter-ID efforts centered in battleground states and sponsored by only one Party were despicable? A draconian response to a trumped-up voter fraud 'crisis?' I'm okay with the rough-and-tumble of partisan political campaigning, as I can always hold my nose. But the voting process itself ought to be conducted in as close to "laboratory conditions" as humanly possible. Perhaps we need international poll monitors to assist our banana-republic-worthy practices?
Future campaigns will ignore Mother Nature at their great peril. Same goes for our entire approach to living in concert with her environment.
Finally, and I'm guessing I'll have more to say on this, the media coverage of this campaign was abysmal. News ought to be more than entertainment, and journalism ought to be more than stenography. Instead of forcing an elevation of the debate, most media reps were content to hype ratings by characterizing the race with all the nuance and analysis of a wrasslin' death-match on pay-per-view. When it even bothered to fact-check, the trivial was equated with the fundamental; there was way too little consequence for lying, so, predictably, we got a Lot of it. Where have you gone, Uncle Walter? Chet and David? A weary nation needs you.