Well, there was a feast this week for the political junkies. I don't remember American politics ever being this confusing. There are some things that stand out.

1 That is one angry electorate. In the end, as it always is, it's the economy, Stupid. There aren't enough jobs. Jobs are still disappearing.

It was a huge comeback for the Republicans but mainstream Republicans are going to have to do with the nutters in their midst, people Sarah Palin calls the Commonsense Conservatives who are going to want to reshape the party in their own image.

So instead of the two great parties working more together, which is what people tell the pollsters, there is going to be greater division and friction.

2 Barack Obama got a thumping, an even bigger "shellacking" than Bill Clinton in 1994, yet Clinton went on to win a second term. But Clinton connected easier than Obama does. I've never seen anyone with more magnetism in a person than Clinton. He was smart, but mainly he was warm, easy. I'm not sure Obama is as easily warm. I haven't met him, of course.

But it always intrigued me - and I've written this before - that while he was always breathtaking during his beautifully crafted and delivered speeches, on the hoof he was no more fluent than, say, John McCain.

And even in that White House press conference when he could have come out and said "Well, bugger,"or whatever the American equivalent is, and admitted he was going to have to do better and change tack a little and that he had heard the voice of the American people and used a little self-deprecating humour he did none of that. He seemed strangely detached.

He did get a true thumping, of course. That didn't help him. But he does know how to connect. He just forgets to.

The time he did it the most powerfully, I think, was on the night he accepted his historic victory on that stage in Chicago. There wasn't a dry eye anywhere in the world that night.

It was a speech you know the world had stopped to watch. He connected then big time. You probably think that I mean he connected with what he said in his speech. I don't. I don't remember a word of it. What I remember is a little comment he made before he began, one that moved hundreds of millions of people watching round the world.

As Michelle and the girls left the stage, Obama said: "The girls have earned the right to take a puppy to the White House." We haven't seen that for a while.

The right were able to hammer him for being an elite, isolated intellectual, I suppose the kind of person I regard suspiciously here who listens to National Radio and reads the Listener and believes we should never mine the conservation estate. They see him as really left wing, if not a socialist, the kind of person, actually, for whom National Radio is designed. He needs to lighten up.

And the young people and the blacks, who came out for him in their millions in the 2008 election simply stayed at home this time.

3 Any climate-change legislation in the United States is dead. It's over. Heaven knows where that leaves the rest of us who showed up at Copenhagen. If the United States isn't in, then what's the point? Republicans and especially the Tea Party movement think climate change is goofy and a hoax.

4 Sarah Palin is a greater phenomenon than ever. You cannot take your eyes off her. She is, if you'll excuse me, sex on a stick. She is so sassy. She is frightened of no one. She was out there working hard endorsing 34 candidates. Only 15 won, but some of them were giant killers. She is incredibly fast on her feet, as I saw in an interview with her this week.

She coins great phrases. The hockey-mom line at the last Republican convention remains a great moment, despite the terrible gougings of her that came later. Now she is Momma Grizzly. She is the spearhead of a movement of Commonsense Conservatives. Again, her phrase I think.

And, by the way, now that I think about it, so what if she doesn't know her Supreme Court cases? Just kill Osama Bin Laden and that'll do me, thanks. A lot of powerful Republicans owe her now. Will she run? Of course she will.

5 Here's something else my antennae tell me about her. She was so new and so fresh and so inexperienced that she was easy to pull up, pull apart and ridicule. Once, she was a curiosity. Now she's a major brand. But we've got used to her. We've grown accustomed to her face. We know her now.

That's why she can win in 2012. And, after everything, after the mauling no vice-presidential candidate has ever had from the media, as far as I can remember, she is still standing, still talking her head off, still beautiful, still flashing that wonderful smile and still pulling huge crowds.

Now, Sarah Palin connects. She has grown enormously as a public figure. She could win in 2012 if old Grumpy/Sullen/Serious doesn't cheer up.

6 The rising Republican star with whom she will have to deal, however, is in Florida, the 39-year-old son of Cuban immigrants, Marc Rubio, the man they're calling the Hispanic Obama.

Rubio knows how to work the middle. To win at anything in public life, I think, you always have to be able to work the middle.

As Richard Nixon used to say, campaign on the right, govern in the middle. It's working well for John Key, you will have noticed.

Rubio says that both of the great American parties have to take some blame for the economic woes of the nation. I don't know why the Democrats do, to be honest, but that seems to be graciousness and it works for me.