The odds in the US election were piled against Senator John McCain from the start. His party chose him reluctantly in the first place. He was nominated not by acclamation but by elimination, leaving many Republicans asking what had happened. So far as the wider electorate was concerned, he was asking to succeed a president of his own party who, by the end, was setting records for unpopularity.
During the campaign Mr McCain saw his strongest issue, national security, lose much of its previous urgency. The economy, where he was much less confident, took its place as the country’s greatest concern – and how. The next president faces the most challenging economic crisis since the Depression of the 1930s. On top of everything else, a press that had loved Mr McCain when he was a thorn in the side of the Republican party was certain to turn against him once he might become the next Republican president. And so it did.
Everything pointed the same way: 2008 would be a Democratic year. To overcome these odds – to go into next week’s election ahead in the polls, instead of where he is, five to 10 points behind – Mr McCain had to fight a flawless campaign and Senator Barack Obama had to slip up. As things turned out, it was the other way round.
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