MEDIA
12/10/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Five Key Takeaways From Frank Rich's Column

Frank Rich's latest column may be, to Obama-philes, like the feel-good op-ed of the year, but I'm just glad to see Rich taking the election results and demonstrating how many assumptions about the American electorate can now be put to rest:

Good Bye, Bradley Effect:

The most conspicuous clichés to fall, of course, were the twin suppositions that a decisive number of white Americans wouldn't vote for a black presidential candidate -- and that they were lying to pollsters about their rampant racism. But the polls were accurate. There was no "Bradley effect." A higher percentage of white men voted for Obama than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton included.

Detente In The War Against 'Elites':

Obama also won all four of those hunting-and-Hillary-loving Rust Belt states that became 2008's obsession among slumming upper-middle-class white journalists: Pennsylvania and Michigan by double digits, as well as Ohio and even Indiana, which has gone Democratic only once (1964) since 1936.

Not So Monolithic:

And what about all those terrified Jews who reportedly abandoned their progressive heritage to buy into the smears libeling Obama as an Israel-hating terrorist? Obama drew a larger percentage of Jews nationally (78) than Kerry had (74) and -- mazel tov, Sarah Silverman! -- won Florida.

Let's defend Hispanic-Americans, too, while we're at it. In one of the more notorious observations of the campaign year, a Clinton pollster, Sergio Bendixen, told The New Yorker in January that "the Hispanic voter -- and I want to say this very carefully -- has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates." Let us say very carefully that a black presidential candidate won Latinos -- the fastest-growing demographic in the electorate -- 67 percent to 31 (up from Kerry's 53-to-44 edge and Gore's 62-to-35).

The Youth Vote Won't Be Dismissed:

Young voters also triumphed over the condescension of the experts. "Are they going to show up?" Cokie Roberts of ABC News asked in February. "Probably not. They never have before. By the time November comes, they'll be tired." In fact they turned up in larger numbers than in 2004, and their disproportionate Democratic margin made a serious difference, as did their hard work on the ground.

My Personal Favorite:

Even the North Carolina county where Palin expressed her delight at being in the "real America" went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points.

But, I'd still point out one big caveat that looms within all the good news:

Though Rove's promised "permanent Republican majority" lies in humiliating ruins, his and Bush's one secure legacy will be their demagogic exploitation of homophobia. The success of the four state initiatives banning either same-sex marriage or same-sex adoptions was the sole retro trend on Tuesday. And Obama, who largely soft-pedaled the issue this year, was little help. In California, where other races split more or less evenly on a same-sex marriage ban, some 70 percent of black voters contributed to its narrow victory.

There's much to celebrate in our, perhaps, more perfect union, but let's not toast its perfection just yet.