For the last several decades, public perceptions about the parties and international affairs were inflexible: Republicans were seen as the trustworthy party when it comes to foreign policy.
Only five percent of respondents thought that foreign policy was the most critical issue in this campaign -- but of those five percent, voters went for Obama over Romney by 56% to 33%. Voters were also more likely to trust Barack Obama in an international crisis (57%-42%) than Mitt Romney (50%-46%).
This is the first exit poll in at least three decades where the Democrat has outperformed the Republican on foreign policy and national security. And I guarantee that whoever runs from the GOP side in 2016 will not have a ton of foreign policy experience. The GOP has managed to squander an advantage in perceived foreign policy competency that it had owned for decades.
There are competing explanations for this -- I suspect much of it has to do with the spectacular failures of the Bush/Cheney era, and the Romney/Ryan habit of pretending foreign policy and national security aren't important -- but this shift is likely to carry consequences.
After all, in recent decades, polls have shown the American mainstream looks to Democrats for domestic issues like health care and education, but preferred Republicans on international affairs and the military. It's what helped create the often-silly "mommy" party/"daddy" party dynamic
But for the first time in my lifetime, the GOP's advantage in this area is slipping away, leaving Republicans with ... not much.