Andrew Gelman, no conservative partisan, has the first one:
The election was pretty close. Obama won by about 5% of the vote, consistent with the latest polls and consistent with his forecast vote based on forecasts based on the economy.(emphasis in original)
After all the reports we got about how transformational this election would be, how the youth vote would turn out in record numbers and how turnout itself would blow every previous election out of the water.
Well, it didn't. 18% of young voters turned out compared to 17% last time.
Yeah, Obama-hipsters, speak truth to power!
And overall turnout? Roughly comparable to 2004--even with all of the fake, dead, & felonious signed up by ACORN.
As for realignment? Nothing to see here. Jennifer Marsico of AEI:
The 2008 election was an important election. But it can hardly be considered realigning.(emphasis added)
Mr. Obama won by portraying the Bush presidency as a series of mistakes that need to be avoided in the future -- essentially encouraging voters to think about the short-term past, not the long-term future.
Put another way, Mr. Obama got about 40,000 fewer votes in Ohio than John Kerry got four years ago. Mr. Obama carried the state when Mr. Kerry did not because Republicans stayed home. Nationally, the anticipated record turnout didn't materialize. About the same percentage of registered voters came out this year as in 2004. And was that a realignment year?
Wholesale rejection of conservatism? Nah, not buying it. I'll give you rejection of Bush and critique of the current economic crisis, but neither of these things are a knock on conservatism as an ideology. Republicans may be down for the count, but it's not because of their ideology. There is a wide divide between ideology and implementation.
More from Gelman (click the link for accompanying scatterplots):
The red/blue map was not redrawn; it was more of a national partisan swing. The standard deviation of the state swings (excluding D.C. and the unusual case of Hawaii) was 3.3%. That is, after accounting for the national swing in Obama’s favor, most of the states were within 3% of where they were, compared to their relative positions in 2004.(italics added, bold in original)
The standard deviation of these state swings was 2.4%. This was even less variation–2004 was basically a replay of 2000–still, the relative state swings of 3.3% in 2008 were not large by historical standards.
Again, Obama didn’t redraw the map; he shifted the map over in his favor. (Or, to put it more precisely, the economy shifted the map over in the Democrats’ favor and Obama took advantage of this.)
Folks, the election is no more complicated than this. Trace the trajectory of the polls and the take a look at the exit poll data (Scroll down to the last bit of data. I think you'll find that the economy numbers match up pretty well with the overall election numbers).
The tanking of the economy in middle September through October lost John McCain this election. Granted, correlation doesn't prove causation, but we've got some pretty strong evidence.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at email@example.com.