Not saying that this is how it is going to play out but if certain things happen what follows could be a likely scenario.
Let's start in mid July.
Barack Obama continues to maintain a statistically insignificant lead over John McCain. He is up nationally by 3 to 5 points. Which is disappointing and worrisome because given the political climate and the disaster that has been John McCain's campaign Obama should be up big. July comes and goes without notice but behind the scenes the McCain camp is rebuilding with the help of Karl Rove protege Steve Schmidt.
August begins and Obama realizes that fundraising gets harder when rich donors amounts are limited and poorer donors can't give up an extra couple hundred dollars to Obama with food and fuel prices rising and spending to get their kids back to school is more important than helping Obama.
The dynamics of the campaign aren't changing and that's not good for Obama because he can't pull away. Meanwhile McCain's campaign is getting more agile, focused, and organized. Mid August McCain starts playing up the his position on the war, which is increasingly viewed at as a success. Obama tries to dance around his earlier bring them home now positions. Heading toward the convention Obama is faced with his Veep pick. Some advisers say to go with a full out change ticket and pick Gov. Sebelius or Kaine, others tell him to shore up military and conservative votes with Sam Nunn, or Jim Webb, or a General, but Obama travels the safe route and picks Evan Bayh. The base isn't energized by the pick, the public doesn't know Bayh well, and he is kind of dull. This equals no Veep bounce.
Heading into the conventions McCain picks Mitt Romney as VP. He brings more organization, lots of money, and economic conservatives, and talk radio get fully on board. McCain receives a bounce and as the Democrat convention looms the polls show the race a dead heat.
After a good convention Obama sees a little bounce but is faced with the daunting task of raising money for the next two months that McCain has in the bank (public financing). Hilary Clinton donors don't deliver the big bucks because they are salivating over the idea of Hilary Clinton v. 76 year old John McCain in 2012 with a Barack Obama loss. For the first time ever a major political candidate has fundraising in the back and front of his mind in the all important 2 month final stretch.
The debates begin and are mostly seen as a draw. Obama and McCain aren't the greatest debaters but McCain can be nasty when attacking and Obama much like he was when on the defensive in debates earlier in the year looks like a deer in headlights. As a result many undecideds don't see a commander in chief in Obama.
Obama chooses to focus on CO, NM, IA, and NV in the final weeks. Leaving McCain to have the last say in PA, MI, and OH.
A few weeks out from election day a well put together Reverend Wright Ad makes more undecided blue collar whites who weren't paying attention in the spring pause.
Between fundraising, a too expansive electoral map to play with, and fighting the inexperienced and radical liberal associations charges Obama limps into November. McCain battens down the hatches in OH, MI, and PA and seems to have a couple point lead on election day.
Although many swings states end up down to the wire. OH, FL, VA, NV, and CO are held by McCain and he picks up NH and MI. Although he cracks NM and IA its not enough for Obama. The final electoral count McCain 295 Obama 243. In the end Obama's diconnect with rural voters hurt him in Ohio, VA, and CO. Latinos didn't flock as was hoped costing him CO, NV, and FL. And new enthusiasm for Romney helped tip NH, MI, and NV. As the dust clears America is still not ready for a very liberal President.
Hilary getting ready to exclaim "I told you so " Is more ready than ever.