Barring some unforeseen health problem or scandal in the six months to the Republican convention, Senator John McCain will be the Republican nominee. McCain faces a difficult road to the White House.
The political environment is bad for Republicans. The GOP suffered big losses in the midterm elections of 2006. The Iraq war remains very unpopular. Various scandals have led several Republican members of Congress to resign or be indicted, and the Republican brand has been tarnished. Economic troubles such as the housing meltdown, high gas prices, and more are becoming increasingly prominent, and Republicans are more likely to be blamed.
Democrat presidential candidates have raised significantly more money than Republicans. Democrat primaries have seen higher turnout.
John McCain won the nomination battle thanks in part to support from the mainstream media. He can hardly expect this to continue. The recent dubious New York Times attack on McCain may be the tip of the iceberg. So what can we expect from the media in the months ahead?
McCain remains strongly in support of the war. The media will point this out constantly and discuss whether it will hurt his campaign. McCain himself has said that he will lose if he does not change public opinion on the war.
The media will scour McCain's past looking for scandals and controversies. The Keating Five scandal will receive a lot more play. If there are things in McCain's past that have been swept under the rug, expect them to come out.
McCain's age will become an issue. The media won't ever say that McCain is too old, they'll just keep raising the issue as a topic of discussion, thus putting it in everyone's mind. The Democratic nominee will probably deny that McCain is too old, putting the idea in people's head even more. Any campaign gaffes will be discussed in this context.
McCain's temperament will also become an issue. The lovable, gruff, truth-telling maverick the media has portrayed up to now will be transformed by the media into an unstable, angry, offensive man.
Meanwhile, McCain faces trouble with conservatives. Many conservatives are discussing whether a McCain victory would be a victory for conservatives. James Dobson, Ann Coulter, and John Derbyshire will not vote for McCain, and Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Pat Buchanan, and others have debated whether they can vote for him. McCain will have to find a way to win conservative votes to win in November.
McCain does have some things going for him. He is a solid and sometimes charismatic speaker. He has some appeal to moderates and independents (which the media will doubtless try to damage). McCain could also benefit from the racial divide in the democratic party, with blacks supporting Obama and Hispanics supporting Clinton. He could gain votes from whichever group loses.
Overall, McCain faces many challenges in his bid for the White House.