When discussing why he thinks this happened he cites anecdotal evidence from talking to undergrads at Harvard that
It was largely noneconomic issues. These particular students told me they preferred the lower tax, more limited government, freer trade views of McCain, but they were voting for Obama on the basis of foreign policy and especially social issues like abortion. The choice of a social conservative like Palin as veep really turned them off McCain.
I found this interesting as I generally fall into the same category, my utility function probably places a greater weight on social and foreign policy issues then economic issues. Since there is such a gulf between the democrats and republicans on social issues I generally tend to vote democrat in the US.
On the other hand, (despite what the parties say!) we don’t have anywhere near as much of a politcal divide on social issues in New Zealand so I generally vote based upon economic policies. Which, as you will have seen from our TVHE political quiz results, means I usually vote National.
As an aside, isn’t it random that a “Red State” is a Republican state when red is the socialist colour? According to my good friend wikipedia this just happened by accident and was a result of the the US news stations.