early and often

The Breakdown: Who Elected Obama, and Did They Give Him a Mandate?

Don’t worry, Al. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

With only North Carolina still not officially called (but tipping to Obama, with 100 percent of precincts reporting) and some votes trickling in throughout the country, Barack Obama leads the electoral-vote count 349 to 173 and the popular vote 52 to 46 percent. It may not have been a total surprise, but the sheer scope of the victory is impressive nonetheless. Today, political analysts are digging deeper into the numbers to discern how it all happened and what it means: which demographic groups Obama won over, how the polls fared, and what Obama’s mandate looks like.

• Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin note “African-American turnout was not unusually high. Instead, Obama drew his strength from an array of racially mixed, growing areas” around big cities. He “won in all regions of the country but the Deep South” and made “deep inroads into New South states, the industrial and agricultural heartland and the fast-growing Rocky Mountain West.” His broad “support from African-Americans, Jews and young whites with other key groups” makes the victory “daunting” for Republicans. [Politico]

• Adam Nagourney writes that Republicans were left “sobered” over the breadth of Obama’s victory; “states like Ohio and Pennsylvania stood out because officials in both parties had said that his struggles there in the primary campaign reflected the resistance of blue-collar voters to supporting a black candidate.” [NYT]

• Jake Tapper says that despite McCain’s risking his political career for immigration reform, Obama greatly improved on John Kerry’s support from Latinos. [Political Punch/ABC News]

• George Stephanopoulos contends that this election shows “we are moving toward a post-racial America.” Only 19 percent of voters took race into account in their decision, and “only 74 percent of the electorate in this election was white,” compared with 90 percent in 1976. [George’s Bottom Line/ABC News]

• Glenn Greenwald concludes that, since Obama outperformed the RealClearPolitics averages in ten swing states he examines, claims of the Bradley Effect, Republican voter fraud, and liberally biased polls have all been at least somewhat refuted. [Salon]

• Steve Benen says pollsters can finally relax. RealClearPolitics, FiveThirtyEight, DailyKos/Research2000, and Rasmussen all nailed the popular vote. Plus, the typical “interactive map” that we’ve all been looking at turned out pretty much as expected; “the only state where the numbers were really off base was North Dakota, which turned out to be less competitive than expected.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Byron York thinks that it “appears that finally, on election night, McCain’s long-time problems with the GOP base caught up with him.” [Corner/National Review]

• Marc Ambinder says the “exit polls demographics tell a story of an expansion of the Democratic-leaning electorate by Obama,” growing with Hispanics, young people, African-Americans, and whites. [Atlantic]

• David Paul Kuhn calls it “stunning” that “54 percent of young white voters supported Obama,” far more than any other Democratic nominee. He also won the most support from white males of any Democrat since Jimmy Carter. However, Obama dropped off from Al Gore’s numbers among white women, “perhaps an indication of the historical candidacy” of Sarah Palin. [Politico]

• Jonah Goldberg notices that the historic youth vote that was supposed to materialize didn’t. [Corner/National Review]

• Andy Barr pegs the turnout at 64 percent, “making 2008 the highest percentage turnout in generations.” [Politico]

• Matthew Yglesias claims the exit polls demonstrate that “people want Obama to implement his agenda, and his agenda is a progressive one.” [Think Progress]

• Dan Balz suggests that Obama’s mandate isn’t clear, as it’s debatable “how much he owes his victory to a popular rejection of President Bush and the Republicans and how much it represents an embrace of Democratic governance.” [WP]

• Ezra Klein jokes that based on “recent campaign narratives, the American people have now given Barack Obama an overwhelming mandate for” socialism, government-run health care, and destroying Joe the Plumber. [American Prospect]

Earlier: So What Happened After You Went to Bed?

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

The Breakdown: Who Elected Obama, and Did They Give Him a Mandate?