Barack Obama succeeded in his bid for the presidency because he became the anti-Bush, Ryan Lizza writes in the New Yorker. Campaign advisers agreed early on to keep it simple: own the economy and emphasize bringing change to Washington. Little did they know how well the financial crisis and John McCain would ultimately support that goal—and help turn the Illnois senator's newcomer status into an asset.
Obama steered the effort to emerge as a great candidate. Key turning points: clarifying his message before Iowa, agreeing to meet with leaders of hostile nations, hiring a young communications staff, rejecting public financing, and staying true to himself. "He somehow managed to emerge intact, after navigating two years of a modern and occasionally absurd Presidential race," Lizza notes, adding that on Election Night, Obama "seemed to be saying that he was going to figure out how to be a great President," too.