Michelle Cottle in this week's Time magazine:
Democrats found this election discombobulating because no matter how often they hear about a divided America, most blue staters — especially coastal elite types — still don't quite grasp that their world view is not shared by everyone. Day to day, liberals have the luxury of ignoring conservative America. Only occasionally does some red-state phenomenon like The Passion of the Christ intrude on our consciousness, and even then it's usually because of some outrage it sparks among a particular interest group on the left. Social conservatives, by contrast, cannot escape the world view of blue staters. Every time they go to the movies or turn on the television or open their child's school books they're reminded that traditional values ain't what they used to be. (Many liberals will be horrified to hear that two-thirds of Americans think creationism should be taught alongside evolution in science classes.) Forget aggressively raunchy shows like Sex and the City or Temptation Island. Even the mainstream megahit Friends featured a parade of bed hopping, divorce, lesbianism and out-of-wedlock births that would have raised howls of protest not so long ago.
If anything, social conservatives don't realize the full depth of blue-state America's condescension. They assume that liberals sit around all day thinking about how much smarter or more sophisticated or more enlightened they are than social conservatives. Truth be told, most of the time liberals don't bother to think about social conservatives at all. Except at election time, when they suddenly become aware of them as some frightening, incomprehensible menace to their otherwise comfortably progressive society.