For the strongest evidence that this was not a status quo election, consider what’s likely to happen on immigration.
Republicans started splitting on the issue the day after the election. Boehner won’t be able to keep his caucus together on this one, and McConnell won’t be able to sustain a filibuster. An immigration bill will pass with some Republican support. Republicans who support the bill will get no credit. Republicans will be remembered for a long time as the opposition.
Political identification has sticking power, especially in immigrant groups. Cuban-Americans in Florida tilted Democrat last week for the first time in 50 years, finally shaking their resentment over JFK’s handling of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
A few years from now, most voters will have mostly forgotten how the immigration reform bill of 2013 got passed. But a generation from now, immigrant children will still be growing up in homes with portraits of Barack Obama on the wall.