Why is the US presidential election more of a referendum on whether voters can vote for Barack Obama or not than on whether thay can vote for John McCain or not?
Because if people CAN vote for both, they should and will vote for Obama. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had a sketch where a "black leader" said an Obama presidency would be bad since the rap music industry and professional sports teams would have trouble recruiting; - the punch line was "Do we want black kids growing up thinking they could be President"? It got a few nervous twitters, but it was not a laugh out loud comedy sketch, and understandably so. It's something that's desired too seriously by fair minded people. The election of Obama would be an inspiration to minorites not just in the US but around the world. This fervert wish should not be disappointed without good reason and it reflects well on Americans that they should be looking for that good reason as opposed to voting for McCain without much inquiry. It does not diminish Obama to make this suggestion so long as Obama is not making it himself: as I noted here on Saturday, Obama has been praised as an intellectual by conservatives who know him personally as well as liberals. Likewise his natural gift for communication is broadly acknowledged.
During the primaries, Jay Leno joked about what he suggested was on the Democratic candidates' podiums: Hillary had a can of beer and a gun, Barack had a glass of white wine and hors d'oeuvres. Now that's funny, if you can tell it like Leno. The ground breaking nature of Obama's candidacy is not.
Obama is such an early adopter of trendy technologies, he's even on Twitter. Meanwhile, McCain doesn't even do "the Google".
If this were a beauty contest, it would be a blow-out. But it's an election, and while low profile elections often do end up being Prom King or Queen popularity contests, this isn't low profile. McCain is still close in the polls because many fair minded people don't believe that they can vote for Obama. It's not because McCain is so much more attractive. It's because of Obama's rejection of the expert consensus on things like trade, rent controls, and taxes. There is a real concern that Obama's history as a left wing "community organizer" will mean he will be inlined to pursue policies despite non-partisan evidence against them.