When you look at the results both at the national level and at the local election, there are two competing storylines about what these election results tell us about the present and future of the two parties.
One storyline is demographics. Exit polls show President Obama getting 93% of the African-American votes (marginally higher than Gore and Kerry, but only by 3-5%), and 71% of the Latino vote. More importantly, both groups are growing segments of the overall population with African Americans representing 13% of the voters and Latinos representing 10% of the voters. With its policies on immigration, gay rights, and attempting to point the growing number of Muslim-Americans as planning to impose sharia law in the US, the Republican party has gone out of its way to assure solid majority for Democrats in the Latino, LBGT (carried by Obama by a margin of 76% to 22%), and Muslim-American communities. In many states, that will be good news for Democrats running state-wide and for whomever our nominee is in 2016.
The other storyline is geography. Here is a map showing the vote (and margins) in the Presidential race in each county. The exit polls show Democrats getting 62% of urban voters, but urban voters represent only 32% of total voters (and more importantly approximately one-third of the seats in state legislatures). Democrats are narrowly losing in suburbs -- 48% Democratic; 50% Republican -- representing about 47% of total voters. In rural districts, we do even worse, losing 39% to 59%. While the Republicans have done a good job of gerrymandering districts, our inability to win rural and suburban districts is a key part of the reasons why Republicans have the majority in Congress (while losing the vote total) and have control is state legislatures like Pennsylvania (narrowly) and Missouri (by veto-proof majorities) even while Democrats are winning state offices.
If the Republicans need to take a look at their policies that seem to target minority groups, Democrats need to take a look at our lack of a coherent economic message for rural votes. We are not going to change our social message of inclusion which will cost us vots in rural America but gain us votes in the urban and suburban areas. But we need to say something to rural voters beyond the Democratic version of trickle down -- we need a five-ten point plan of how to help rural America succeed. The debate over the farm bill this past year is a perfect example of a missed opportunity to put Republicans on the defensive. Over the next two years, we have to do better or we will be sitting here again, looking at a deadlocked Congress and many state legislatures in which the most important issue appears to be reducing women's reproductive rights and the rights of workers.