Obama wins in a landslide 364 – 173. He carried states that hadn’t gone Dem in 30+ years like NC,IN,VA. He also carried the following Bush states: IA,NM,CO,FL,OH,NV. Quite impressive for a bi-racial candidate with a middle name of ‘Hussein’.
Americans vote for the president that is most likely to continue the policies of the precedent (if the preceding president did a good job) or a president that is going to change how things are done (if the preceding president didnt do well).
In the first case, we have FDR elected 4 times, Truman elected, LBJ elected over a landslide, Nixon reelected in a landslide, Ronald Reagan elected twice, and GHWB elected because their predecessor (or themselves) have done a great job.
On the other hand, We had Eisenhower elected 2 times, Kennedy elected, Nixon elected, Carter elected, Clinton elected twice and Bush elected twice because the American people were unsatisfied with the preceding president or wanted a different party in the white house. This is why Obama will win this year. The Republicans have had control for 8 years and the president is unpopular. Therefore, according with history, Obama should win in a landslide.
Here is a more complete analysis of presidents getting elected since the Great Depression (1929):
1929-1933: Herbert Hoover is president and the great depression happens: many people consider Hoover to be an ineffective president because of his handling of the depression and making it worse.
1933-1945: FDR gets elected because Republicans have been in power since 1921 and Hoover’s handling of the depression. FDR’s policies helped the US
improve its standing amongst the world and he gets re-elected three times.
1945-1953: Truman becomes president after FDR dies. He manages to end WWII with the atomic bomb so he gets re-elected. He becomes unpopular later on because of the Korean war.
1953-1961: Democrats have been in power 20 years and because of Truman’s unpopularity, Eisenhower gets elected and because the US is at relative peace and prosperity during this period, he gets re-elected.
1961-1963: This is one of the closest elections in history and for good reason: Eisenhower was quite popular. But Kennedy’s charm wins over voters and he gets elected.
1963-1969: LBJ becomes president because of JFK’s death. The nation mourns over the loss of the popular, youthful president and LBJ is elected in a landslide. He becomes unpopular later on because of the Vietnam war and civil rights.
1969-1974: Nixon becomes elected because of a split in the democratic party, the vietnam war and the conservative movement. He gets re-elected in a landslide.
1974-1977: Ford becomes president because Nixon resigned. Because Ford was never elected, he is an exception to the rule. The American public by now is quite tired of Nixon’s corruption and Ford is doomed to lose in the next election.
1977-1981: The corruption of the republican administration leads to election of a democrat, Jimmy Carter.
1981-1989: Reagan wins two landslides because of Carter’s incompetence in handling of the economy and foreign affairs. The 80’s were a relative period of economic boom and success over communism so Reagan often is considered a great president.
1989-1993: Bush is elected because Americans were satisfied with Reagan’s policies.
1993-2001: Because of economic problems during Bush’s administration, Clinton is elected twice because of his quite competent handling of the US economy in a period of prosperity.
2001-2009: Another close race, but Bush wins over Gore. The factor here is that Americans wanted a different party, not because they were unsatisfied with Clinton’s performance. Bush wins re-election because of high support during 9/11 and the Iraq war.
2009-?: Obama will be elected because of Bush’s incompetence and the economic crisis. Americans also want a different party in the white house and this is the main reason McCain will lose (because he is a republican).
As you can see, the only times the election kind of breaks over tradition is in 1960 and 2000, two of the closest elections in modern history. But the 2008 election won’t be close if history is the precedent. You will see a type of 1976ish or 1992ish win this year.