It seems nobody can even discuss this any more without getting a straw man shoved in their face: "oh, here we go again, saying everyone who votes for McCain is a racist". No, not "everyone" but a lot of people are voting for McCain because of "culture" issues now. That word "culture" encompasses many aspects, and one of them is race.
Look at the dramatic shift in the election because of Palin's selection. Do you really think that this was entirely because people love this phony "soccer mom reformer"? No, it was an opportunity for bunches of far-right-wing racists and rednecks to come out of the woodwork and put voice to their frustrations over issues such immigration, multiculturalism, and the view by right-wing whites that they are "threatened" by those "others".
Obama has been criticized for his 50-state strategy; people say it was a waste of resources, that he should have focused just on the swing states. But winning wasn't the sole reason for that tactic, it was to try to establish some legitimacy among all Americans, to show he cared about more than just winning.
In contrast to most candidates in recent times, McCain has decided not to try to go to the center and appeal to all Americans. For purely self-serving reasons, he has chosen a right-wing radical specifically to polarize the country. He's succeeded, and for this reason alone he has destroyed his reputation and shamed himself beyond redemption.
While reading through the comments on the fivethirtyeight.com website, I found these astute observations from a person who goes by the name "Cugel". I'm not sure if this is his or her original writing or if it is copied from elsewhere, but it's worth a read either way:
Why HOW you campaign matters. Why the politics of personal destruction leading to 50% + 1 is futile and self-defeating in the long-run.
Throughout history major empires have faced structural challenges whereby the interest of important elites are opposed to the welfare of the vast majority. Usually this leads to collapse, as it did with Rome.
At the time of the barbarian invasions Rome had over 330,000 men under arms, while it's barbarian enemies had typically around 1/10th as many. But, institutional failure left all those soldiers ineffective and unable to fight.
Economic decline for the vast majority inevitably results in collapse. That's the lesson of history.
Well, here in America we don't have a lot of time to start addressing these problems before it's too late. And whoever wins election will have his hands full.
Thus, alienating close to 1/2 the population by Karl Rove style politics of personal destruction leaves absolutely no reservoir of support when anything goes wrong.
Democrats never felt that George Bush was "their" president except in the afterglow of 9-11. And this election is even MORE divisive and bitter than the last, the problems are bigger, the failure of the American dream more obvious, and the racial politics that are ultimately behind the rejection of Barack Obama even more obvious.
Democratic Congress may well "come together in unity to solve the nation's problems" as McCain will demand in January if he wins, but the legacy of bitterness and division won't fade at all, but will be stronger than ever. One little slip by McCain (and the times almost make certain that he will make mistakes) and he'll be instantly another "unpopular failed President."
This used to be taken for granted in America, that's why most Presidents previous to Bush tried to govern from the middle.
But Republicans today don't care about anything but getting 1 more vote on election day so they can crow at the rest of us "Ha! Ha! Losers!"
This time it's PERSONAL. Destroy John Kerry with personal Swift-boat attacks? He's a rich white man, it's not really that personal. Destroy Barack Obama with lies and code-word racist attacks ("he's not one of us")?
You're telling 26% or so of America that "you're not one of us" which means no matter how smart or skillful or accomplished you are, you can't succeed. Because too many White Americans won't accept you no matter what.
Kicking minorities aside is a long-standing practice in America, but as Blacks/Asians/Hispanics/Other become the MAJORITY, that's suicide for the Republican party.
And nobody is going to forget this election. Not for a generation. This is exactly the flip side in what the civil rights movement did in turning white America Republican back in 1966-68.
White backlash led to the Reagan coalition. It would have happened 6 years earlier, but for Watergate.
Of course that raises the obvious question: is McCain even bothering to think that far ahead? And does he even care?