IMO the punditry is missing one of the available analytic "angles" in thinking about this election. IMO a lot of rural white people may have stayed home rather than vote for either BHO or Romney. In their eagerness to see the US become a "multi-culti" kaleidoscope of peoples and groups the media are beating the drum hard for the GOP to turn itself inside out to become a slightly more rightward leaning version of the Democratic Party. The 2% decline in the share of votes cast by white people is cited as evidence of inevitable decline of caucasian dominance in the USA.
That may be a flawed analysis.
I think a lot of white people in all those red counties pictured above hold deeply racist views concerning BHO. Some of them may have voted for him in 2008 out of fascination with the novelty of the idea of him and as a mute protest against the domestic and foreign policy misrule of the Bush administrations. The financial disaster into which we were clearly falling probably added to willingness to experiment with the Obama idea. After 4 years of his government and endless "cracker barrel" discussion of the notion of a n---r president, many of these folks were completely and irreversibly against him. If you don't think that is true, you need to get out of the blue areas on the map above and talk to people. You may be afraid to do that and you may be justified in feeling that way. In my years as a business consultant I learned not to take foreign clients out into the countryside for meetings, recreation, etc. In general they perceived a profound difference in the attitude of the rural people and wanted to flee back to the blue enclaves.
At the same time, the Mormon factor was in play in this election. The polling of rural people, especially white evengelical Protestants is generally all about talking to people who have overcome their doubts about Mormons as Christians. The polling is not extensive among those who would not vote for someone who they think belongs to a secretive, non-Christian cult. Those people probably do not want to talk about this to poll takers.
If you seek a net effect from my hypotheses, it seems likely to me that the conclusion reached by quite a few citizens was that they preferred not to vote at all rather than vote for either of two unacceptable candidates.
That effect may have played a significant role in the result. the Republicans should be careful in doing their "homework" before they start making themselves into Democrats. The potential white vote out there in "flyover" country may be larger than what was showing in this election. pl