Nov 9, 2008

November 5, 2008: Oh Happy Day, Shot Heard 'Round the World, The Sun Also Rises.

“Oh happy day
oh happy day....

Yesterday, at high noon, the good Marshall was gunned down in the streets of Tombstone by a young Jedi who had said he'd had enough. It was a resounding drubbing, carrying at latest count 28 states with Missouri and South Carolina too close to call. States that had not gone Democratic since Lyndon Johnson's landslide in 1964 returned to the fold. Moreover Obama made serious inroads into the deep South carrying Florida and Virginia, and the far west winning Nevada and Colorado. He even carried Indiana a state that for a short period in the twentieth century was run by the Ku Klux Klan.

It was an impressive victory winning as a Democrat, for only the second time since the FDR-Truman years' over 50 per cent of the popular vote. In the end Obama was able, by demonstrating an ease and a confidence on the political high wire, to convince America that he, not John McCain, is the safer bet in these very troubling times.

Obama's resounding victory was, like Lexington and Concord, a shot 'heard round the world' as the entire planet seemed to erupt in joy as a combination of elation and relief replaced fear and loathing. In Chicago's Grant Park, scene of angry rioting 40 years earlier, a crowd of over 150,000 happy souls gathered to greet the new President-Elect. Tears of joy ran down faces of every color. Old civil rights workers like Jesse Jackson, who had seen the dream come true in his lifetime, openly wept tears of joy.

While not winning the majority of the white vote, Obama carried a number of predominately white states. States like Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado not known for having large minority populations.
The numbers beneath the numbers reveal the broad trends as Obama improved on the performance of Gore and Kerry among white voters overall, and winning by a 10 point margin white voters aged 18-29 (1). There was much discussion during the primary season concerning Obama's ability to win the votes of those making less than $50,000 annually. According to the exit polls Obama crushed McCain winning by a margin of 73% to 25% those making under $15,000, 60%-37% those making $15-30,000, and 55%-43% among those earning $30-50,000. In fact McCain bested Obama only in the categories of those making between $50-75,00 and those making between $100-200,000.
Oddly, given the Rescumlican screed about Obama's socialist tendencies Obama in fact drubbed McCain 52%-46% among those making over $200,000 annually.

Perhaps it isn't so odd. The last time a senator from Arizona ran for President the technocrats and professional classes deserted the Republican Party in droves. Likewise this time the more comfortable and well-to-do have deserted conservatism. This is demonstrated not only by his winning the majority of voters earning over $200,000 annually but winning over, for the first time in the history of the Democratic Party, a majority of college graduates. Those with some college education voted 51-47% for Obama; college graduates went 50-48% Democratic; while those with postgraduate educations went with Obama by a resounding 58%-40% (1). Not FDR, not Truman, not JFK nor LBJ, Carter or Clinton were able to convince a majority of the college educated to vote Democratic. Here is graphic evidence of a new coalition being born as groups that had heretofore voted Republican have shifted ground.

It is difficult to say, and only time will tell, how much of this is temporary and how much is permanent. Much will rest on how well the nation is governed in the next few years and how successful Obama will be in consolidating his gains. But he has laid to rest fears that he cannot appeal to working class white voters and he has expanded the Democratic presence not only geographically into the West and the South but among critical income and age groups, not the least the young, who have demonstrated themselves to be the cornerstone of the new governing coalition.

Yesterday America made history, demonstrating its boundless capacity to adapt and surprise. For forty years we have wandered in the wilderness and groped in the darkness.
But, we have learned, the sun also rises. Yesterday America took another great stride toward creating a more perfect union. Yesterday America looked into the mirror and beheld in it's reflection the face of Barack Obama



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