Well, I’m surprised at the scope of the victory, but not that Obama won. A few thoughts on why…
Obama: The new President brought out a lot of new voters. I’m sure that the first-time and lapsed-voter vote went to Obama, by a wide margin.
Bush: McCain tied himself far too closely to what is perceived as a failed Bush administration. One of his largest mistakes was to paint himself as running for Bush’s third term. The now-infamous “I voted with Pres. Bush over 90% of the time” quote had to hurt.
The Definition Factor: Other than his ties to Bush, how did McCain actually define his views of America and his potential presidency? All we ever got was that he wasn’t Obama. Obama has a plan, he posted it on his website and talked about it in his commercials, and we were able to decide if it was a plan we agreed with. What was McCain’s plan?
The Judgement Factor: I will say that I really didn’t agree with Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate, but at least choosing Biden was defensible. What kind of judgement does it show for McCain to pick a sub-mediocrity like Sarah Palin as his running mate? I am quite certain that McCain lost votes when he picked Politician Barbie — both because some people couldn’t cast a vote for her, and others wondered what kind of judgement McCain would have brought to the White House if *this* was how he handled the largest decision of his campaign.
The Change Factor: There seems to be an inherent self-correction in the political system. Neither party gets a really long run in the White House, at least not in the last half-century. After eight years of a Republican Presidency, there was a good chance of a swing back the other way.
The Presidential Image Factor: Who looked more Presidential? Really. Obama seemed to carry himself as a leader. McCain came across as your doddering grandfather. That couldn’t have helped McCain.
And look at the big picture – this was an across-the-board slap at the Republican party. The Democrats have clear control of both houses of Congress. They’ve gained governorships and state legislatures. If the Republican Party doesn’t take a step back and learn something from this, they will continue to get slapped every couple of years. The Republican Party is out of touch with a growing portion of the country. They should try to grow the party — I expect they will retreat further to the radical right.
Good luck to President-elect Obama. I hope he can change the atmosphere in Washington. We need it.