Top 3 Mistakes That Are Costing Senator John McCain the Election

Exploring Self Promotion from Politics – What Can We Learn From The Candidates?

Senator John McCain is losing the Presidential Election by a wide margin and there are three significant, obvious and costly mistakes that he’s making that might cost him the election.

 Mistake # 1 – Wrong Message – Senator McCain’s messages are not constant, they are reactive, vague and don’t speak to our emotions.   

 One Example:

When John McCain states that Senator Obama wants to “share the wealth” as one of his focal points and critiques it is a crucial, costly mistake.  Why?  Because “sharing the wealth” is not necessarily a bad thing.  People know some executives are making $100 million dollars when the average American does not have any “wealth” to share.

This statement talks to a very small segment of the voter population, the wealthy.  This is the wrong message for a presidential candidate.  In contrast, this would be a great message for a fundraiser with wealthy prospects.

Mistake # 2 – Bad Delivery – Senator McCain does not deliver his message or his speeches in a very persuasive or articulate way.  His hand gestures don’t have the right timing, his facial expressions are tough and rugged, and his laughter and smile do not look genuine.

Mistake # 3 – Wrong Image – Senator John McCain started his presidential campaign with a positive image, an image of a strong, experienced and conservative leader tough on taxes and tough on Home Land Security issues.  Unfortunately for him he tried to change his image after the primaries, first reacting to Obama’s popularity and later trying to position himself as the candidate of “change”.  When the presidential debates started his image was not polished and he was aggressive and offensive on accusations, coming off as uncaring, hostile and set in his old ways.

Be a Master of Self Promotions from the book “The Unselfish Guide to Self Promotion” found at



  1. Dale 9 years ago

    Mistake # 4 – Wrong Party affiliation.

  2. 9 years ago

    Top 3 Mistakes That Are Costing Senator McCain the Election…

    Senator John McCain is losing the Presidential Election by a wide margin and there are three significant, obvious and costly mistakes that he’s making that might cost him the election….

  3. brotherj 9 years ago

    Mistake no.5? Choosing Sahra Palin as his vice president , there aren’t enough soccer mom’s in the world to get her elected.

  4. Maverick 9 years ago

    Yes, and the fact that Sentaor McCain does not keep such great associates and friends as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, William Ayres, Tony Rezko, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rashid Khalidi, Father Michael Pfleger, Raila Odingo, Khalid Al Monsour and Nadhmi Auchi is probably, I suppose, a mistake too . These fine men show his opponent’s superb judgment and character in choosing them as friends and associates. Perhaps Obama will offer them roles in an Obama administration. This would be a great achievement for the United States of America and the world.

  5. Roger Lee 9 years ago

    senator McCain it’s acting like a sword looser.. I have been in politics for over 30 yrs .. And I can tell you all he already lost this election..

  6. Joseph 9 years ago

    Is it little early to speak of this? Sure McCain is making mistakes; but he hasn’t yet won the election.

  7. Lynda M 9 years ago

    I have been embarrassed for McCain. I agree that he’s been reactive. Picking Palin was a reaction to Obama’s boost after the dem convention; it’s not in the best interest of the country. Considering he’s been treated for melanoma, I feel is pick simply shows how badly he wants to be president; not that he’s thinking of the country first.
    He’s totally lost when it comes to the economy. I believe he’s admitted that he doesn’t know how to use a computer. He may have been a good candidate in the last century, but he doesn’t have an understanding of technology, global economics, etc.
    He tried to take political advantage of the Wall Street crisis, and looked ridiculously lost sitting at the table with the decision makers. He’s coming across as an opportunist, and instead of giving people a clear message he mainly bashes Obama.
    I agreed with every word of Colin Powell’s endorsement. I think that Obama’s “character” and “decision making ability” is impressive. He has been trying to run a clean election. He has *not* been “dirty politics as usual.”
    There is not one thing about McCain that signals “change.”

  8. David Kahl 9 years ago

    #5, as noted by brotherj, is #3. Wrong image. There is a schizophrenic quality about the McCain campaign. Whatever may be said about Obama’s associations, he is constant and consistent.

    I am in agreement with the first critique — wrong message. The political polarization of the country is not what the common man desires. It is, however, the resulting choice of those that adopt positions which reduce our options to “either/or”.

    The country is in need of mediation, from foreign policy, to health care, to the economy, and, yes, to moral issues. That should have been the message. “I, John McCain, will draw the country to a common center.” The balance of power has been stated in Constitutional and party terms, but has not been addressed in truly ideological terms.

    This would then dovetail into the most natural style of delivery for McCain. As extreme as some may view Obama, he does hold a mediating stance in his delivery. That is his strength.

    The same holds true of image. The choice of vice presidential running mate would have been better served if McCain had offered a calm, committed mediator. This would have underscored the original proposition that McCain will cross party lines to reach agreement and accord. Instead, he associated himself with the same people that undermined him, in the most virulent way, back in 2000. In so doing, he has done himself, his party, and his country a most serious disservice.

  9. Reidar Balstad 9 years ago

    From an European perspective;

    1) Value-props. What are McCains’ ? Conservative or liberal? McCain wants to be recognized as both, but is too afraid to be the Maverick the myth says he is ( )
    McCain has seemingly spent more time badmouthing Obama, than actually delivering his own value-props.
    I guess no examples are needed here.

    2) Market Research – It’s clear to me that the McCain campaign was originally built on traditional, conservative values; they (campaign) assumed that the American people didn’t want to change, they just wanted to get rid of Bush. So the task for McCain was to A) distance himself from the least popular American President ever, B) but at the same time he needed his endorsement to have a standing chance with the Republican conservatives. This called for cautious and non-provocative messaging. This messaging does not move the liberals or “swingers”, which have embraced Obama’s change messaging.

    3) Deliverables & Vehicles – Well, choosing Palin as a “deliverable” might have pulled off, had she shown more substance and not:
    A) been caught abusing her power ( )
    B) referred to Russian and Canadian neighbours as “foreign politics experience”
    C) ahhh, just too many to mention; read:

    In terms of vehicles, the beforementioned SNL also *might* have worked, if it wasn’t for McCain portraiting himself as a “poor knife-salesman”. This 72y old pow is not, with all due respect, a comedian. Palin / McCain are just hurting themselves with appearances on SNL; adding fuel to fire on the jokes about themselves, and their campaign. If repeated enough, a joke becomes reality, right?! He probably knew SNL used him to get better ratings, but was too desperate to say no. Poor, poor decision by the Republican campaign.

    4) Branding – “F” mainly due to the above; unclear messaging, flip-flopping, re-active approach, attempted hijacking of the opponent’s core message and a bad choice of marketing vehicles and deliverables, *does not* brand John McCain as a rock-solid, clear minded leader that can deliver “Reform, Prosperity and Peace”.

    5) Pricing & Overall Value-for-money – Well, McCain just doesn’t appear to deliver the ROI that Obama can. And, if Palin has to take over power (which is *very* likely), the TCO is gonna sky-rocket when the Palin Presidential Possé raids Fifth Avenue for designer outfits. 😉


    PS! I guess this also can be viewed as a political comment; it’s hard to keep it within the frame of the task, with such a burning topic as this. 🙂

  10. Author
    Jorge Olson 9 years ago


    What a great post from an European Perspective.

    Yes, it is also great political commentary.

    Thank you for your post,

    Jorge Olson

  11. Kevin 9 years ago

    Overall John ran out of new and exciting things to talk about late in the campaign. His selection of Palin was a great publicity boost and injected much needed new energy into his campaign. He needed a few more of these shock waves to give him a boost. For instance, He should have announced Colin Powell as part of his cabinet.

  12. John O'R 9 years ago

    McCain may win. Strong undercurrents, huge numbers of people finally seeing through Obama’s lack of substance. I agree that he is not a natural on stage – not much you can do to change that. Positioning himself as the candidate of change was brilliant – because ironically he is. Obama’s never done anything. He’s always been left, never has done any work “across the aisle. McCain is closer to the center than Obama.

    If he had one more week – he would win for sure. May be just a little too late particualrly with all the early/absentee voting that has occurred.

    Palin was a brilliant choice. Energized the party. Fascinating how the liberal press because vein-popping mad about the choice. That was very interesting. Sarah would make a better President than any of the 4 of them. Of course the left leaning Press was all over Palin and not sure what could have been done about that. I’ve met really smart successful women, mothers, that don’t like her becuase they have been that swayed by the press version of who she is.

    McCain’s speeches in last few days have been dynamic and passionate. Obama continues to be non-specific, substance-less – there’s nothing there. “Change” – what’s that mean? Electing a foreigner would bring change. Electing a kinderfgartner would bring change. Electing another Republican or some other Democrat would bring change. Change for the sake of change makes absolutely no sense. Is there something in the water? Why do people buy this?

  13. David Willson 9 years ago

    I’m not so sure McCain could have done any better running as the nominee for a party that is as badly fractured and ideologically bereft as the Republican Party today.

    Sure, his campaign has been roundly criticized for one seeming Hail Mary pass after another, but what were the alternatives. Not true to his brand? What brand is that? After the primary lesson learned in 2000, he took the only path made available to him for the nomination in a thoroughly rigged primary system, he sucked-up to the Republican leadership (voted with Bush 90 percent of the time). So much for Maverick.

    Maybe if he’d picked Lieberman as his running mate, he’d still be the Maverick centrists were looking for. It would have helped him get my vote. But, he’d have been roundly criticized by his own party for that, plus GOP turnout would have flagged on election day. Truth be told, Palin probably got him as close as he’d ever be to winning.

    No, I think the branding story is all Obama’s. He’s the one that broke the Dem leadership’s hold on their primary system. He was the perfect storm of charisma, a well executed brand campaign and a new approach at fund raising and crowd gathering using social media. Not to mention that he had lots of help from the new convergence of television and Web programming, an anti-Clinton leadership coupe by the Kennedy’s, a really bad ex-president and (like I said) an ideologically bereft Republican party.

    One thing he should keep in mind though. The election is basically a popularity contest. After the inauguration it will be a different story altogether. Teddy is on his way out. The Clintons aren’t done yet. And social media has proven time and again that there are difficulties translating its massive online energy potential into real world results.

  14. Mirela 9 years ago

    I guess it’s a little late now discussing McCain’s mistakes- I just wanted to add he was missing charisma and presentation on his speeches. It was even more obvious when he was debating with Obama. Palin was brought in, with the intention to attrack the middle class, I personally think she’s weak based in her experience. She would be a great host for a TV show:)

  15. Joe 9 years ago

    Obama’s win was an overreaction to the last 8 years. Obama ran a great marketing campaign, mainly because that’s all he’s really ever done in his life, campaign for other jobs. Obama sold the American people on “CHANGE,” but never really laid out any plan. What is change? Change from what? He wants to give 95% of people a $500.00 check, but if he pushes the Bush tax cuts out, big corporations will raise the prices of their goods and small businesses will have to cut jobs. McCain really needed to push that point more. \

    The main problem, however, was unintelligent, uninformed young voters that were targeted by Obama. They voted for “Change” just because they hear that the current situation is not good in this country. Both candidates represented change, but in the end, we got the kind of change that we cannot afford. In a perfect world, we could sit an talk to our enemies, but our enemies have their eye on nuclear weapons and are not interested in talking. Obama was wrong when he said that we could defeat our enemies with out will and hope, those are not strategies, those are fairy tales. We need a president who is willing to prepare for war only when necessary, we need to be liked around the wold, but more importantly we need to be respected.

    I understand that this is a great time for African Americans and they should be proud. I am concerned with interviews of African Americans outside of voting booths who said they voted for change, but couldn’t name one of Obama’s policies. I am also concerned with a president who has such radical friends. He is either stupid for not knowing what was going on in his church for 20 years (roughly 5,000 visits), not knowing that Ayers was a terrorist, not knowing that Khalidi was a PLO supporter, not knowing that Rezko was a crook, or decided to ignore it just to climb the political ladder. Either way, that does not make me think that he is a great and virtuous person, it makes me think he is an opportunist. I am also discouraged by the fact that the only reason why he won the senate was because he got one woman disqualified from the race and another man had a sex scandal. It is also troubling that as a community organizer, he accomplished nothing, but to clean up lead paint from one building then made a speech in 2004 and thought that qualified him for the highest office in the world. But, what troubles me most is the American people’s ignorance and ability to vote for nothing more than a bumper sticker. But, that’s just my opinion.

  16. RatanKK 9 years ago

    I am from India.

    I know it is little late in the discussion and I am discussing something that has no direct impact of Obama’s election. But I am pretty sure he has relavance to india.

    (BTW, he is already connected with indian power bees and took stand on Kashmir issues which is as old as India itself.

    Coming back to the point, What is the CHANGE that Obama will bring to the world is to be seen.

    He promised that he can do a better pudding, and I am waiting to eat it, as a proof of the pudding.

    So what do you think would be this pudding of Change be?

    I wonder!

    But i

  17. Nick 9 years ago

    McCain is Bush and we can’t afford another president who regards the presidency as a dictatorship. I would rather have a president with very little experience then one who is already corrupted.

    Obama brings change while McCain would bring the exact same thing that Bush brought and that is our great country run into the ground. Thankfully we won’t have to worry about another Bush the next 4 years…

  18. John J. Alquist 9 years ago

    McCain appears as an old man in need of megadoses of Geritol. He does not seem to have core beliefs, perhaps the result of serving in the Senate too long.
    He was also positioned by his opponents as another George Bush.

    You may recall when Kennedy ran against Nixon. People seeing these debates on TV thought Kennedy was the winner. Those who listened to the radio thought Nixon did better. Why? Nixon looked terrible on TV. So does McCain.

    Generational changes in the population apply here. Someone who is 70 to 80 years old, while wise perhaps, looks to old and tired to govern.

    John J. Alquist

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