What has struck me about the election of Obama is the realistic expectations that people seem to have for his presidency. Although people have been enthused by his race and story, they're more level-headed in their assessment of how little he may actually be able to achieve.
In part this is influenced by the character of the man himself, which isn't full of dash and fireworks, but is more contemplative and prudent. In his acceptance speech I was struck by this phrase: We may not get there in one year or even in one term. As someone who believes in gradual change (if any change at all, since I'm of a conservative bent!) this is showing reassuring consideration.
I believe a combination of hope and pragmatism bodes well for the future.