George C. Edwards III of Texas A&M University notes that the number of states that deviated significantly from the national vote was more than in any election in 60 years, including 14 that went for John McCain (R). “Never before had many of these states voted so heavily against a victorious Democrat,” Edwards writes, citing the work of others.

Jacobson notes that Obama’s coalition included one of the smallest shares of voters who identified with the opposing party on record. He won because of “unusually high turnout among Democrats” and the fact that the Republican Party had shrunk during President George W. Bush’s second term.

Views of Obama as a leftist, as an extremist, as a would-be socialist, as dishonest – all of which became commonplace among some “tea party” activists and other conservative opponents once he was in office – were implanted during the campaign against McCain.