From the Times, an interactive snapshot of voter trends county by county. Blue means the district went more Democratic than it did in 2004, not that Obama won it; for a breakdown on that, choose “County leaders” at the link (or, better yet, “County bubbles” to weight each district by population). Aside from Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and a few scattered blotches in the south, the trend was universal. Discounting McCain’s home state, I spy exactly two counties west of Texas that went heavier for Maverick than they did for Bush. Worse still, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada have trended increasingly blue for two straight elections now. Maybe that’s just a function of the candidates each cycle (each state is comparatively redder now than it was in 1996 when Clinton crushed Dole), with the lesson here being not to get your hopes up when you’re running against a guy with $650 million to spend, especially when you’re saddled with a president whose approval rating is in the 20s. But when you can drive coast to coast and never enter a district where the GOP picked up votes, it seems … noteworthy.
If that’s not depressing enough for you, see Greg Mankiw’s chart of youth voters. Ruffini claims they were worth 72 electoral votes to The One this time around and five percent to Democratic House candidates. How to turn that around will be at the top of the agenda at the powwows among conservative leaders going on now and in the coming months. If you think going to back to Reaganite basics is the key, fair enough, but aside from social security and abortion, it’ll take an awful lot of persuading.