I have my own little pet theory as to why we Americans elect the particular President that we do. Many people erroneously believe that it’s the "issues" that will be the determining factor in who wins the election. While I admit, issues can be important, in the end, the winner will be chosen in spite of his stance on any given issue.
There is a small group of folks, who will always, no matter who the candidates may be, vote Democrat. These people wouldn't vote for a Republican under any circumstances. And, of course, there are others who will only vote Republican. These two groups are the ones who vote the issues. They have picked one party over the other because of that party's views on abortion, or the environment or whatever issue is most important to that particular group.
There’s a third group who’ll vote according to issues..... usually, it’s the issue of the economy. These people don't have any particular allegiance to one party over the other; they'll vote according to their "pocket book". It will depend on whether or not that voter is happy with his or her financial situation at the time and which party they believe will benefit them most monetarily.
In the end, however, the election depends on an ever growing portion of the populous who pick the candidate based strictly on the personality of the candidate. These folks usually only manage to get out to vote during a Presidential election. They can't be bothered to get out during the mid terms. This group will make their decision on who should have the most powerful job in the world based on something as elusive as "likeability", charm and charisma. This group can often be the determining factor that gives a candidate just enough votes to edge out.
How else can we explain why Americans will pick Presidents as different politically as day and night? Bill Clinton and George W. Bush come to mind. Whether you agree with his politics or not, you have to admit that Clinton had more charisma than Bob Dole. And, despite his shortcomings, George W. Bush certainly has more "personality" than those two walking wallpapers - Al Gore and John Kerry.
This theory explains why we have Barack Obama in office today. Absolutely no one could vote for John McCain because of his charisma. Obama was such a fresh and charismatic personality that people who would not have otherwise voted came out to vote for him.
In most cases, this method of picking the president isn’t a complete disaster. Die hard politicos may disagree, but the country didn't crumple under the terms of Clinton and Bush. With Obama, however, picking a President this way has proven to be a horror of unimaginable proportions.
Now, during the mid terms, it's up to the issue driven voters to overturn the gross mistake of November, 2008. The air headed Kool aid drinkers that pushed Obama over the top aren't going to go out and vote.... they seem to only come out during the Presidential election. It's now up to the responsible folks to fix this mess. This is why New Jersey and Virginia chose Republican Governors last go round and why Massachusetts voted in their first Republican Senator in 31 years.
Obama will be Obama. He will continue to infuriate the common sense, responsible American voter. We'll see massive Republican victories in 2010. What happens in 2012 will depend on two things. First, how well will Obama's charismatic aura hold up after four years of abuse. Secondly, if the Republicans nominate a dullard - someone on the order of a Bob Dole, John McCain or Jerry Ford type - we'll be in for another disastrous Presidency.