According to a report on NPR this morning, Democrats believe that the close outcome of the race vindicates their decision to ignore the South, the West, and rural areas in general.
Hello? McFly?? YOU LOST AGAIN! With one of the strongest economies of the last 50 years, the Democrats still managed to lose in 2000. With one of the weakest economies over the same time period, the Republicans managed not only to retain power, but to strengthen their hold (see The Day After...). Clearly, it is NOT the economy, stupid!
According to exit polls (which clearly underestimated Republican support), about 22% of voters felt that "moral values" were the most important issue of this campaign. Not the economy. Not the war in Iraq. Not terrorism. Moral values. This is the driving force behind the overwhelming passage of gay marriage/civil union bans in 11 states.
If the Democrats are to ever regain power, they must find a way to appeal to these voters.