This is a very good question. Can Obama beat McCain? I am not certain I can make a case for Obama right now and not without seeing the tickets for both parties.
Arguments in favour of McCain might be:
> Given a choice between two Senators, voters choose the more the more experienced guy.
> Americans (except for hard core Democrats and some black voters) might not be quite ready for a black person in the White House. On this latter point, there is a danger of this thinking becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy among voters who might like to give Obama a chance but don't want to vote for a loser. Independents might think that.
> America is a still a house divided and black and white are still wary of each other - at least those who tend to vote Republican or fear crime which is pretty much everyone.
> Voters see McCain as the best of a bad lot so vote for him.
> Voters are still afraid of the big bad terrorist and they love their Republican war Presidents. They see Dems soft on this stuff.
> McCain's campaign can paint a picture of Obama with the likes of every black leader they don't like now or hated in the past. Malcolm X or Farrakahn or whoever else is scary. Obama/ Osama has a nice ring to it.
Arguments in favour of Obama winning:
> Voters want to distance themselves from the Bush 'third term' - Iraq and economics and all those other Bush screw ups and incompetencies.
> They feel that it is time for a change to a new politics that is less divisive.
> Black voters turn out in droves including blacks who vote Republican and vote for Obama.
> Americans decide that it is time to turn inward and worry about themselves and not interfere around the world and they see Obama as the guy to lead this new approach.
> Obama's folks can paint of picture of McCain as old - they used a phrase about McCain but I can't recall what it was but McCain's people reacted to it being about painting him as old - even old people can be persuaded that being too old is not good for a top leader. This has some drawbacks.
Conclusion - McCain wins. Obama can win only in this scenario if every black voter possible registers, and votes for him and there are no hanging chads or millions of disallowed voters/votes.