Last night, Barack Obama won the Presidential election in a manner Democrats rarely do. Not only did he carry the loyal blue states, he added perennial republican strongholds like Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada. This strong showing surprised many people, even the most optimistic of Obama supporters. In addition to Obama’s likeability, campaign organization, and calm judgment; McCain’s poor choice of a running mate helped create an election which became almost impossible for him to win.
Many contend that one of McCain’s strategic errors in this election was moving too far to the right after the Republican primaries. This strategy undermined McCain’s underlying reason for his relative popularity: his centrist views. However, quickly recognizing that some conservatives were unhappy with his stances on certain issues, he pursued to paint himself as a typical conservative. To bolster his image with portions of far-right rural America, he chose the little-known governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Not only did this decision hurt his claim of experience, it showed a complete lack of judgment. Considering his age, McCain would be naÃ¯ve to think his running mate wouldn’t have the huge responsibility of knowing the workings of the American government, which she could potentially run. Lauded by conservatives, McCain strategists were glad to see their candidate ahead in polls after her selection. However, this honeymoon period was short-lived as the economy spiraled downward in mid-September, and the polls once again started to favor the Democratic candidate. To compound McCain’s perceived weakness on the economy was his proclamation that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Disregarding the validity of the statement, these words couldn’t come at a worse time: just hours before the Wall Street meltdown.
Obama’s election was not due to McCain’s errors, or simply his eloquent and thought-provoking speeches, it was his promise of hope and change at a time when Americans most needed it.