The next president

A remarkable moment, and a truly amazing achievement. The result was not a surprise; even so, it will take a while to sink in. The country has crossed a threshold.

A convincing and comfortable victory (in electoral-college terms, though far from a landslide in the popular vote). So much for the Bradley effect: an idea, let us hope, whose time has passed. Independents broke heavily in his favour, and he won support right across the country, from all demographic categories. Barack Obama will be president because of this great breadth of appeal and because of his extraordinary magnetism. By themselves, especially when you remember the challenges that confront him, these won't make him a great president, but they suggest that he has it in him to be a great president. At the mere thought of this possibility, one's spirits lift.

From John McCain's gracious concession speech: "A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States."

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