I’ll start looking a little more closely at numbers and exit polls tomorrow, but a few things stand out right away.
There seem to be two kinds of relatively affluent suburban voters. "Professionals," together with what was once called "the New Class" (people who talk for a living), are increasingly voting Democratic. Case in point: the Northern Virginia suburbs (going into Prince William and Loudon Coounties), which went for Obama. The more traditional relatively affluent suburbanites are in sales, marketing, and management--in business, in other words. They’re probably still relatively reliable Republican voters, but their proportion of the suburban electorate is declining. Case in point: the county immediately north of Indianapolis, which (as Michael Barone pointed out) gave McCain a substantially smaller margin than it gave Bush four years ago.
Is there a strategy for reestablishing the Republican advantage in the suburbs? Can such a strategy be reconciled with efforts to reach out to lower middle class exurban voters ("The Party of Sam’s Club"), let alone maintain a relationship with socially conservative evangelicals and Catholics?
Talking about tax cuts isn’t going to do it...at least not until the Democrats raise taxes in a way that’s genuinely painful to a wide swath of the electorate. But perhaps talking about the safety and security of the family, and upholding the authority of parents, could appeal (in slightly different ways) to all these constituencies.
With a little tweaking, Sarah Palin might actually be able to pull off a kind of crossover appeal. She’d have to emphasize more her connections with a family of teachers and less her moose hunting.
But enough for now....