Quick point, it wasn't the first time in history that a person was elected president in an electoral college/popular vote mismatch. 1876 and 1888 also had this outcome. It had been a while, but not the first time in history.
McCain's campaign has been thrashing in search of a resonant set of messages in the last three weeks. There also appears to be an unwillingness to commit to anything even moderately aggressive on the part of McCain. They've been unable to hit any kind of stride really since maybe 1-2 weeks after the Palin pick. It's been disheartening and perplexing to see. I'd say it was the credit crisis and it's sudden onset that threw the campaign for a loop, but it was floundering even before that.
I thoroughly disagree with the claims that McCain's campaign is calling Obama a terrorist or anything like that, nor are they being overly "harsh" in their criticisms of Obama. This line of attack is all a smoke screen by the Obama campaign and their allies in the press to distract from any sort of serious voting public introspection on Obama, to get His people back to the feel good platitudes, obfuscated liberalism, and mindless populism that His campaign is peddling.
We'll see what the rest of McCain's campaign will look like tomorrow night. He's got a make or break event and he has to perform. It doesn't need to be a blow out win, just a decisive win. Something to cause the voters to do a serious double take and reconsider (or perhaps consider for the first time) what they're really voting for if they continue on the Obama bandwagon. He has to close the deal with independents, not from a place of squishiness on the issues or out populisming Obama, but from a clear description of goals, center-right solutions, and the reasons why Obama's plans will cause more harm than they are worth. Then and only then will the Ayers, Wright, Rezko, etc. stuff really kick in. McCain needs to break the Obama spell with a mix of mostly intelligence, rationality, and sound judgement and argument, along with a mild dose of the alliances and associations. Only then will Obama's past be given the serious consideration is deserves and be the political bludgeon it absolutely would be with any other politician.