Obama's election will likely do for the Rush Limbaugh's and Sean Hannity's of the world what Bush's election did for the Jon Stewart's and Dave Letterman's of the world.
The Northeast was where education was first made mandatory. The South was the last place. The Republicans' strongest support is in the South; the Democrats' strongest support is in the Northeast. Either we're going to have to stop educating people or the Republicans will need to find a new base.
Obama's biggest gain over Kerry's supporters came from voters 18-29 year old. His margin among these voters was 35%. Given that the policies of the next 4 to 8 years will do so much to shape the world of these 18-29 year olds, this seems like one of those moments of political justice.
Bush declared himself an ideologue - a conservative. He also declared himself practical. He's leaving office after presiding over the biggest increase in government spending since FDR and his final act of note is to nationalize the banks - the most visible instruments of capitalism. Either Bush is actually a Manchurian Candidate in the tradition of Buster Keaton (a slapstick conservative?), doing his best to turn a generation away from the conservative brand in an odd conspiracy of incompetence, or there is an inherent conflict between what is practical and the conservative ideology. Had Bush set out to intentionally damage the Republican Party and the conservative brand, it is doubtful that he could have done a better job. For all the fretting on conservative talk shows about Obama's leftist leanings, it is a wonder that no one has asked whether the destruction of the Republican Party was an inside job.
Ideology is what you use when you are tired of thinking. Everyone talks about how honorable John McCain is, and that may be. Nonetheless, he could only spout nonsense like "cut taxes" in the face of economic and financial turmoil. If "cut taxes" actually worked, the Bush administration would have kept us out of the current situation.
90% of McCain's support came from whites. The good news about the changing demographics of the US is that as the policies of this country are less accommodating to insular voters who assume that what is best is what makes the most sense to married evangelicals whose one trip abroad was to New York, we're more likely to be a true global leader.
Once the Republican Party decides to embrace facts as the starting point for its next version of policies, education may no longer divide supporters of Democrats and Republicans. (Think I'm wrong about the divide? As recently as 2000, the difference between Bush and Gore supporters' education levels was negligible. Think I'm wrong about the way the right has ignored facts? Their take on evolution and climate change has resembled the Catholic's 17th and 18th century approach to heliocentrism. I would argue that the Bush administration's attempt to bury the facts and argument of climate change was perhaps the simplest example of why dubya should be sued for malpractice. It is also perhaps the biggest reason that the Republicans lost so soundly among college-educated, young adults.)
I don't think that the Republicans will seriously consider reinventing themselves yet. For that, they'll need to lose convincingly in at least one or two more elections. We need a decent conservative party. We voters always need a choice between more or less government intervention - more or less spending - more or less taxes. The Republican Party that let itself be hijacked by George W. and Dick Cheney is not the party to offer that alternative.