We've all seen the topline numbers; the President re-elected with almost 64 million votes, about 51% of the popular vote and a wipe-out in the Electoral College. The poor, sad GOP still doesn't quite know what hit it, or just how high the cliff it fell off really is. And how humiliating it must feel, to have a skinny black dude with a funny name wipe the floor with the most stereotypically patrician opponent imaginable.
But really, they should have seen it coming, and not just because the horserace numbers, unskewed or otherwise, were never in their favor. When you dig a little bit deeper into the national psyche, it becomes clear that the country has changed. This is Obama's America now, and there are some tantalizing indicators in public opinion that it's here to stay.
Vanity Fair, the best magazine in the world as far as I'm concerned, publishes an idiosyncratic monthly poll with CBS News*. It's filled with tantalizing nuggets on the state of our collective mind. Here are some highlights from 2012.
Americans are engaged: 52% would rather argue with the member of an opposing political persuasion than a fan of rival sports team (36%).
56% of Americans think Rush Limbaugh is 'offensive and usually wrong'. Less than half as many, 26%, claim the contrary.
69% of Americans would not want to live in a non-democratic country.
51% of Americans consider the State of the Union the most important television event of the year, 32% the Super Bowl.
62% of Americans think the Citizens United ruling is bad for our democracy.
19% of Americans would like their children to marry into the Obama family; only 16% would choose the House of Windsor, Britain's Royal Family. The Kardashians? Under 1% – there is hope yet.
60% would be unhappy over an uneducated spouse; only 24% feel the same about an overweight one.
Given a choice to acquire one skill overnight without effort, 29% would choose martial arts, 67% the fine arts.
75% of Americans would get a first or second college degree if higher education were free.
48% of Americans would cringe at being seen in public "reading" a "book" by Jersey Shore cast member Snookie, perhaps because adults still can't openly carry crayons without raising eyebrows. Unfortunately, VF didn't measure support for simply burning the damned things outright.
We are more tolerant, more kind and more inclusive than the GOP thinks: Kwanzaa? 60% of Americans know the holiday and what it stands for.
If they were casting a movie about the New Testament, 21% of Americans would cast Denzel Washington in the role of Jesus. The Nazarene, of course, was blond, blue-eyed and spoke English with a Georgia twang, while Denzel Washington is, well, not blond.
If Jesus were alive today, 51% of Americans think he would be a teacher; an entrepreneur, or "job creator" if you will, all of 2%.
54% of Americans appreciate the world's religious diversity; 20% think Jesus-only is the way to go.
A combined total of 49% of Americans think it's entirely appropriate, even desirable, to at least know the phrases 'please' and 'thank you' in the local language of a given country they travel to.
65% of Americans oppose a military draft.
Are we anti-science? Not really: If Americans had to eliminate one subject from the high school curriculum, 43% would choose Phys. Ed., only 9% science. 32% would eliminate none.
Confronted with a burning bush talking to them, 35% of Americans would simply put out the fire, 16% would seek counseling, 14% would run away, and only 21% would do whatever the hell the shrubbery told them to do. If that's not progress, what is?
Mind you, this is only a snapshot, and there are certainly more comprehensive and rigorous data sets out there. But bear these numbers in mind the next time the teabaggers in your life – and we all have some, I suppose – wax eloquent about their silent conservative majority. It does not exist.
* (n∼1,100, MoE 3.5%, 95% confidence interval, all data 2012)