The Corner

One Nation

One of the things the exit polls help to show is that all of the various divisions and distinctions we employ in chopping up the electorate are explanatory devices but not always actual defining facts about America. Election trends tend to cut across categories that we professional over-analyzers would think would be decisive. It happens in every election. So for instance while President Bush in 2004 did better among moderates and conservatives than John McCain did yesterday, he also did better among liberals than McCain did. He won a greater share not only of Republicans and independents but of Democrats too. He just did better in general. He did better than McCain among men, women, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, voters ages 18 to 29, 30 to 44, 45 to 64, and 65 and older. Bush beat McCain’s performance among voters making less than $50,000 a year and among voters making more than $50,000 a year; among voters with college degrees and voters without college degrees. You get the point.

This is not something peculiar about this election, it’s an important fact to remember about the country. Every American fits into all kinds of categories simultaneously, and the categories can tell us some extremely important things about America, but the categories don’t exist independently. They are ways of describing one whole if complicated country.

Yuval Levin — Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

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