A lot of commentary has been focusing on the fact that the GOP lost Virginia for the first time since 1964 and North Carolina since 1976. This is treated as absolutely unprecedented, and to a certain extent it is.
But consider the demographics. The last Republican loser, Dole, won Virginia by a tiny 2 point margin while McCain lost it by 5.5. However, in 1996 the Virginia electorate was 81% white and 16% black while in 2008 it was 70% white and 20% black. Dole won white voters 53-39 while McCain won them 60-39--a substantial improvement. The problem was, of course, that the black vote in 2008 was larger and more monolithic than in 1996. The same lesson applies to 1992, where the elder Bush won the state by 4 points while obtaining an identical margin among whites than McCain did.
Similarly, in North Carolina whites were 80% in 1996 and Dole won them by 24 points, carrying the state by 5. McCain did better at 29 points but barely lost the state because whites only constituted 72% in 2008.
The point is that we lost these former Republican strongholds not necessarily because parts of the state have more white liberals, but rather because the white share was lower (and the black share correspondingly higher) than in the past elections we lost. We can look forward to these states being purple for as long as these turnout trends hold up.