The best analysis I have read so far about the election result is an essay in the New Republic called “How Bush went back to the 70’s” by John Judis, Ruy Teixeira and Marisa Katz. It requires a subscription and is too long to post here but here is the first paragraph:
George W. Bush's victory shows that the political strategy that conservative Republicans developed in the late 1970s is still viable. Bush won a large swath of states and voters that were once dependably Democratic by identifying Republicans as the party of social conservatism and national security. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry rallied a powerful coalition of minorities and college-educated professionals based in postindustrial metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. In the future, this coalition may triumph on its own. But, in this election, Democratic successes in the Northeast, upper Midwest, and West could not make up for Republican successes in the South, the border states, the Southwest, and the Great Plains. Fittingly, the election was decided in Ohio--a state that combines the metropolitan North and the small-town South.
If you would like a Word copy of the whole thing, send me an email. UPDATE: You can read a large excerpt here.
I also like this post on Kevin Drum. I would read it in conjunction with the Judis essay. He argues rightly in my view that the solution to the Democrats problem of finding a Presidential winner is not to look to the South.