Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Obama

When Gerald Ford took over as President in 1974, after Nixon's resignation ended the Watergate/impeachment crisis, he announced that "our long national nightmare is over." I think that captures the present moment very well ... but now that the next morning has arrived, we will have to deal with a long national hangover. There's still a little time to celebrate, though.

As I'm sure all of you know already, Barack Obama has decisively won the Presidential election. There is still some final vote-counting going on in a few states--North Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri--but the results there will affect only the scale of victory.

Of course, this is a genuinely historic event in many respects. An Associated Press story this morning nicely sums up a lot of the key points:
His name etched in history as America's first black president-elect, Barack Obama turned Wednesday from the jubilation of victory to the sobering challenge of leading a nation worried about economic crisis, two unfinished wars and global uncertainty. [....]

With most U.S. precincts tallied, the popular vote was 52.3 percent for Obama and 46.4 percent for McCain. But the count in the Electoral College was lopsided — 349 to 147 in Obama's favor as of early Wednesday, with three states still to be decided. Those were North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri. [....]

Democrats expanded their majority in both houses of Congress.

In the Senate, Democrats ousted Republicans Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and John Sununu of New Hampshire and captured seats held by retiring GOP senators in Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado. Still, the GOP blocked a complete rout, holding the Kentucky seat of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Minnesota seat of Norm Coleman, who had been challenged by Democrat Al Franken, and a Mississippi seat once held by Trent Lott — three top Democratic targets. [JW: Actually, the outcome in the Minnesota Senate race is still uncertain.]

In the House, with fewer than a dozen races still undecided, Democrats captured Republican-held seats in the Northeast, South and West and were on a path to pick up as many as 20 seats. [....]

Almost six in 10 women supported Obama nationwide, while men leaned his way by a narrow margin, according to interviews with voters. Just over half of whites supported McCain, giving him a slim advantage in a group that Bush carried overwhelmingly in 2004.

The results of the AP survey were based on a preliminary partial sample of nearly 10,000 voters in Election Day polls and in telephone interviews over the past week for early voters.

In terms of turnout, America voted in record numbers. It looks like 136.6 million Americans will have voted for president this election, based on 88 percent of the country's precincts tallied and projections for absentee ballots, said Michael McDonald of George Mason University. Using his methods, that would give 2008 a 64.1 percent turnout rate.

"That would be the highest turnout rate that we've seen since 1908," which was 65.7 percent, McDonald said early Wednesday.
For more detailed results, I refer you again to the Election Night 2008 Map in the right-hand column at TPM.

=> This is a wonderful and inspiring outcome, and its sweeping repudiation of the disastrous Republican ascendancy was both deserved and overdue. but now the really difficult part starts ... for Obama, and for the rest of us.

Yours for democracy,
Jeff Weintraub