(I wrote this in October 2008 and for some reason I didn’t publish it.)
The biggest reason for John McCain’s defeat is John McCain. In 2000, John McCain ran as a moderate. Once he lost, he was determined to run for the White House again. He did not want anyone to outflank him to his right. Therefore, he embraced Bush and all of his ridiculous policies. He argued against tax cuts before he decided he was for them. He argued against torture before he voted for it. He embraced the Iraqi war so hard that we could accurately rename it “McCain’s War.”
McCain did not recognize that the Internet has played a huge role in this year’s campaign. Sites like the DailyKos, Huffington Post, Crooks and Liars and FireDogLake have really prevented the media from going over the top. Whenever they would swoon over something that John McCain said, these websites pointed out that he had said something exactly the opposite two weeks ago or two months ago. Keith Olbermann, The View and The Daily Show also helped to keep the media honest. So, the game changed right under John McCain’s feet. John McCain has spent the last 26 years courting the media. As a matter of fact, it could be argued that the media gave John McCain the Republican nomination. (I’ll save that for another post.)
Finally, John McCain’s own erratic campaign behavior has left him looking unsure of himself and unsure of his message. Whether it was his leadership or his campaign staff’s ineptitude, it doesn’t matter. He is wrong on Iraq. He was right on immigration until he changed his position and now he’s wrong. He’s been wrong on the economy multiple different times. Even Colin Powell pointed out on national TV that the McCain campaign has been all over the place on the economy. Sarah Palin is simply the latest evidence of John McCain’s shoot (from the hip) first and asked questions, investigate and vet your partner second.
By the way, John McCain’s lukewarm performance in all of the debates didn’t help him either.