If anyone had said 2 years ago that this race would be this tight, most of us would have told them to put down the crack pipe and check into rehab. I personally admitted to the possibility of a lot going wrong between then and now, but I was real confident. So in that respect this election is a bit of a let down.
2 years ago America was pretty inflamed over 9/11 still and Bush was like a superhero. It was a momentary rush to judgement by many who then had a few years to cool off and revert to norms, plus there was plenty of time for things to go wrong and for the democratic spin machine to get up to speed and start chipping away. So the end result is that people voted on the basis of what they always vote on, personal prosperity, and confidence in the candidate on their key platform positions.
Bush appears to have secured a popular vote victory as well as an electoral victory. This is a clear improvement over 2000 and the last time it was accomplished was when his father won office. Bill Clinton never achieved a popular majority.
Republicans are looking to gain 4 Senate Seats and some House seats as well, further extending their control over the Congress. This will enable GWB to push more appointees to the federal courts and possibly replace Rhenquist and O'Conner on the Supreme Court and perhaps one or two others. Coolness.
The liberal gambit of forcing the gay marriage issue in the courts forced the issue to the forefront and people began voting on it, defeating it wherever it reared its ugly head.
Voter turn out was very, very high. Despite this Bush gained popular ground. So the excitement of this race was consisteant between the candidates, parties and philosophies. This runs counter to the historical fact of high turn out favoring the challenger.
Lots of new voter registrants who just plain failed to turn out to actually vote. But new registrants that did turn out voted consistently with the national polls. National polls based on those most likely to vote remained accurate.
What does it all really mean?
Despite the contentiousness of the race, America is shifting slowly to the right. It's still very moderate and some regions are solidly in the liberal leaning side of things. New Hampshire and Maine have suffered under massive influxes of people from Massachusetts who bring their values (or lack of them) with them. THis is changing the political landscapes in these states, but by contrast, traditional Southern Democrats are shifting the the Republican ticket turning the South, Southwest, Midwest and Mountain regions into fairly solid bulwarks of at least moderate conservatism effectively balancing the urbanized coasts.
The bottom line appears to be that America is moderating politically and rejecting the radicalism of the left.
The election doesn't signal a clear mandate for The President, but it does signal a strengthening of support for him and the policies of the Republicans over the extended timeframe. Very cool.