Sorry for yet another post on politics:
If the Democrats can pull this one off and elect Obama (Clinton has zero chance at this point, and I don't think Democrats are going to nominate a dark horse), it will be due to two factors: 1.) The country is sick of Republicans, and 2.) They're doing a better job at exploiting technology (cell phones and the Internet).
The impact of #1 is lessened because a lot of the Republicans who were sick of Republicans in 2006 were upset about fiscal discipline. They weren't sorry that the GOP got whipped in 2006, but they'll largely come back to the fold this year to vote for McCain if not necessarily their local Congressman. If I had to guess I'd say, quantitately, that this alleviates about half the Republican image vulnerability. The other half is about appeal to independents, and I don't know whether Obama or McCain is going to wind up with the advantage there--McCain has a strategic advantage (America is a center-right nation, and independents probably share more opinions with McCain than Obama) but Obama will have the tactical advantage (more funding, more volunteers). Hang on for a wild ride!
Remember that a key ingredient for a functional democracy is that you can handle losing an election. If the stakes rise so high that you can't afford to lose, there's no incentive to play fair or to concede defeat once you lose (see Alma 2:7-10). At this point I prefer McCain's platform to Obama's, but the definition of an extreme optimist is "someone who believes that civilization will probably survive, even if it doesn't take his advice." If Obama takes it, so be it, and I'll hope for the best.
"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)
Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.