Obama won! A few observations on the election:
A lot of people are saying "Look, now this really shows that any child can grow up to be President!" Well, no. At the same time as the U.S. elected a black man as President, a bunch of states voted for anti-gay laws. And plenty of ignorant people were still under the impression that Obama is a Muslim and that that's a bad thing. And Senator (soon to be former Senator) Dole in North Carolina attacked her challenger Kay Fagan by calling her an atheist - Hagan responded by calling it "slander". There was no Colin Powell moment in that race where someone asked "why do you care if Fagan is an atheist?" So yes, a black man won the presidency, showing we've progressed, but you probably still can't win the Presidency if you are openly atheist, openly gay, Muslim or Arab (see a poll from 2007).
A lot of people like Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan are saying this was a transformational election, that the Democrats are building a new coalition just like Reagan in 1980 and FDR in 1932. Well, no. The data shows that, compared to 2004, the Democrats just got a a plus 3% handicap in pretty much every state other than states who had their own officials runing (Arizona, Alaska, Massachusetts, Hawaii), and Appalachia and Southern states (hmm).
Stratfor highlights that, even though Obama won in an electoral landslide, the popular vote was relatively close. One reason for that is going to be Obama losing a lot of areas in the South and Appalachia by much more than Kerry did 4 years ago as you can see on this map. The obvious explanation is racist voters voting against a black person in those areas. However you can see that almost no counties in North Carolina and Virginia swung in McCain's direction compared to 2004, however just across the state lines, counties right next to them voted much more heavily in favor of McCain than in 2004. And Obama targeted North Carolina and especially Virginia, and didn't really target West Virginia and Tennessee. So I think beyond racism, there is the lesson that if you target voters even in the sticks in Appalachia, they will vote for you in greater numbers than otherwise (vindicating Howard Dean's 50 state strategy).
Basically, I don't think too much has changed in terms of electoral politics. This election didn't show that we all united, it just showed that a mere 3% more of us reject Republican rule after one of the worst presidencies in history and instead will vote for a black guy if he promises to cut taxes and seems like a generally likeable fellow.