It's an assertion that was backed up by a Gallup poll in January. But now, some prominent voices on the right are questioning it.
"We have always said it's a center-right country. And I've always believed it," Fox News' Sean Hannity said after the election results came in. "Tonight, I will be honest, I am not so sure."
Analysts say that taking on the question of whether America leans right or left means wading into murky waters.
"I think Americans are schizophrenic when it comes to conservatism and liberalism," Zelizer said. "They often say, 'I like less government.' But when you ask about any specifics, they start to say, 'We like the government doing that.' "
Being more inclusive does not automatically mean being more liberal, said Rodriguez, of Fordham.
"When Dick Cheney announced his daughter was gay and affirmed his acceptance of her, that was a pivotal turning point because it affirmed other people to do the same," she said.
But taking that stance certainly didn't make Cheney "more liberal in the traditional sense of the word," Rodriguez said.
Traditional meanings of those words may no longer apply, says Joel Kotkin, professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.
"In some sense, meanings are now flipped," he said.
Many liberals want to preserve the status quo, including large institutions such as universities, governments and nonprofits, he said, while some conservatives favor radical changes, such as how schools are run.
The election did show "there is no longer one America -- maybe there never was -- but at least two," he said: a dominant, "progressive" one "that supports government spending, higher taxes, green politics and social liberalism" and a "slightly smaller one" favoring "lower taxes, less regulation, resource development and a somewhat more traditional view of 'family.' "
The smaller, traditional group is growing, but mainly by having more children, he said. But it will take them a generation "to catch up with the swelling numbers of singles and the growth of minorities."
"What has not found consciousness or expression," he said, "is a third way of looking at America" in which the different constituencies may find common ground and coalesce.
Reading too much into one election?
The adage of President Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, "It's the Economy, Stupid," may not be getting enough focus in all the talk about what this election meant, some analysts say.
Yes, Obama succeeded amid an economy that would generally give an incumbent a tough ride.
But Mitt Romney, a billionaire who grew up in a wealthy, powerful family, may not have been the right man to take advantage of that opportunity, especially with the memory of the Great Recession still haunting the country.
"A sizable portion of the population that is poor may be conservative, but they are unlikely to support political candidates who appear out of touch with the working class," said Stephanie Ann Bohon, sociology professor at the University of Tennessee.
"Many, many Americans are resentful of the wealthy right now, and they are unlikely to fully embrace a candidate who seems dedicated to keeping the wealthy happy."
Bohon said Tuesday's election didn't signal a major shift in political views or public opinion as much as simply a change in demographics.
"The proportion of the voting eligible population grew for Latinos, blacks and Asians, and it did not grow nearly as much for whites."
After 2008, some conservative pundits had expected minority voting to drop back to "normal," she said. "But there is a new normal."
Bohon is not alone in warning not to read too much into the tea leaves of this one election.
The right did have a few successes. Conservatives limited "Obamacare" in several states and shut down some marijuana initiatives. The GOP also expanded its majority in governors' mansions, including taking back North Carolina for the first time in two decades.
Marsh, of the University of Maryland, fears the consequences of suggesting that the country has become "colorblind" or "post-racial."