I couldn't help but notice the past couple of primary debates, and the punditry afterwards were the most civil and intelligent conversations I've heard on a national political level in my memory.
Maybe after 8 years of hounding Clinton, followed by 8 years of shrill attacks on Bush, the major parties have decided to call it even and move on. Maybe it's just that the "shock jock" period of politics is finally coming to an end. Maybe candidates can actually promote and debate ideas and agendas.
This would be good news on a number of fronts. First we could actually hear ideas and agendas coming out of the mouths of the current batch of politico's. We also could see more quality candidates step forward as the waters become less poisoned.
Another factor that may lead to more intelligent and civil political discourse is the much wider range of career opportunities open to former candidates. The explosion of media outlets means that "also rans" no longer have to simply retire and exit the stage. They can become pundits, bloggers, public speakers, news "contributors", anchors, advisors, etc. It's no longer a do or die proposition. Often the most vile and ignorant moves are made out of desperation. The cause of that desperation, the thought of being removed from the public eye, is waning.