The post-mortums on the election are endless. There are countless strategic blunders McCain made, but in this cycle even a perfectly run campaign would have lost. When things are bad, no matter what the cause of the trouble, or what the policies of the incumbent party, they get voted out. In 2006 the Republicans lost their majorities in congress because of an unpopular war. By 2008 we had won the war, although you would never know if your information comes from the main stream media. Politically it was off the table. But with polls showing McCain ahead and climbing, the year long brewing financial meltdown got ugly and went public. With that the election was over.
During the depression every western government, conservative and liberal, with radically different philosophies and policies, got voted out of office. The point is that policies don't matter when things reach an extreme. This does have some logic to it. Conservative economic ideas are not perfect, but will do much better for the economy than liberal ideas. I have studied these things in detail for a long time (too much time perhaps), and the general concept is absolute. But an average voter doesn't know if big government is good or bad for his wallet or his freedom for that matter. One thing he does know however, is if things go sour, he wants to try something new, anything new.
Of course this risks disaster. It is as if you knew nothing about how a car runs, so when you had engine trouble you decided to replace the gasoline with water. After all, you know it is not working properly with gas, so you are trying something different. Needless to say, any chance your car did have for a recovery becomes nil.
And so we have 4 years coming of Obama. I wish him well. I pray for his success. I also know that anyone who thinks raising taxes, big government, and protectionism will help is in a dream world.