This election is different from all others in another respect: These two presumptive nominees have no particular regional identity. John McCain was born in the Canal Zone, no longer a U.S. territory; grew up on military bases; moved to his wife's home state of Arizona and, running for Congress, noted accurately that he had lived in Hanoi longer than anywhere else.
Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii and lived for a time in Indonesia, went to school in Morningside Heights and Cambridge, and made his career in a city where he had never lived before, Chicago. He has been universally accepted by the Chicago political and fundraising establishment and won wide margins in Illinois. But neither he nor McCain has spent much of his life in ordinary Middle America.
Another way this election has been different from any other since 1960 is that neither money nor the thing it mostly buys -- television advertising -- has made much difference. Obama has been a prodigious fundraiser, raising unheard of sums over the Internet. But his money advantage didn't enable him to close the deal and beat Hillary Clinton in Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania or Indiana.
Most of his delegate advantage, as noted, he owes to caucuses, in which money doesn't much matter. And if money mattered among Republicans, their nominee would have been Mitt Romney, who probably ran more TV ads than all his party rivals put together. Obama will massively outspend McCain from here on out, but that doesn't guarantee him victory.
Finally, this election has been different because the most tested candidates didn't run the best campaigns. John McCain, blooded in the 2000 race, depended on a strategy that left the initiative to others: It was always possible that one of his rivals would come up with a strategy that didn't fail.
Hillary Clinton, more than an interested observer of her husband's 1992 and 1996 campaigns, failed to organize the caucuses, ran out of money and made up stories of having been under sniper fire in Bosnia. Obama, the least experienced candidate, has clearly run the best campaign -- yet was unprepared for the exposure of his 20-year pastor and spiritual mentor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
This is a start on a list that may grow longer as the campaign goes on.
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