Paul West of the Los Angeles Times nailed what I believe won Obama the race in 2012:
“The president built his winning coalition on a series of election-year initiatives and issue differences with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. In the months leading up to the election, Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, unilaterally granted a form of limited legalization to young illegal immigrants and put abortion rights and contraception at the heart of a brutally effective anti-Romney attack ad campaign.
“The result turned out to be an unbeatable combination: virtually universal support from black voters, who turned out as strongly as in 2008, plus decisive backing from members of the younger and fast-growing Latino and Asian American communities, who chose Obama over Romney by ratios of roughly 3 to 1. All of those groups contributed to Obama’s majority among women. (Gay voters, a far smaller group, went for Obama by a 54-point margin.)”
A college friend of mine, Travis Claybrooks, articulated it even more succinctly on his FB wall:
“The GOP has for decades dismissed the minority vote (because they didn’t need it) and thus dismissed the issues that are important to minority demographics. On Tuesday night for the very first time it bit them in the butt. Here is what the democrats understood very well and the GOP utterly failed to understand: That the sum total of the population with those minority demographics is greater than the shrinking sum of what used to be the majority demographic. Here’s the crazy thing: The same was true in 2008 and the GOP still missed it in 2012. Talk about out of touch.”
The problem is, however, that neither has figured out how not to use of the conservative language constructs of us-vs-them when naming what they see.