Unfortunately for their ability to get a good night's sleep for the next few years, this is how that map ought to look, courtesy of the New York Times.
Worse still, also from the Times, is this map, showing the change from 2004 to 2008. Counties that went more Democratic in 2008 are colored in blue (with the shading indicating how big the shift was), and counties that went more Republican in 2008 are colored in red.
No matter how you slice it, the Republican Party is in disarray. It's losing members right and left, its approval ratings are in the toilet (and swirling the bottom with the rest of the turds), and no one can readily identify the person who's in charge. Even Tom DeLay, hardly known for being either a liberal or for sugar-coating unpleasant truths, admits that the GOP is wandering aimlessly in the desert. I don't agree with him that Obama's situation, politically or otherwise, is "dire," but the rest of his analysis is spot-on. The Party of No knows only how to
win steal elections, smear opponents, and oppose progress. When it comes to actually running the country, formulating policy, or articulating a new idea, they're as hopeless as newborn babes. They haven't had a new idea in a generation, and the voting public has finally caught on to the fact that the ones they do have don't work--and never have.
It is certainly within the realm of possibility that the Republicans will manage to turn this shit parade around. They may even manage to do it in time for the 2012 presidential elections, though I'd lay long odds against both eventualities. The bigger issue, as I see it, is what (or who) will replace the Republicans when they either disappear from the scene or find themselves marginalized for the next little while. If we continue our historical pattern, another party will emerge to take the Republicans' place. Perhaps a better solution, however, would be the emergence of several parties--all across the political spectrum.
The dominance of our political dialogue by the Republicans and the Democrats has, I believe, weakened our nation and artificially polarized our society. Worse, it inclines us to think in paired binaries: left vs. right, liberal vs. conservative, and the like. The real world, on the other hand, is colored largely in shades of grey, and admits of far more complexity than most voters would probably find comfortable. There are plenty of good ideas that don't easily fit into the available pigeonholes in American politics, and I, for one, would like to see them find vehicles whereby they might be expressed--and, God willing, put into action. We'll never have a better time to experiment, so why not take the plunge?