The Democrats are meeting in Denver this week, for the convention that will officially nominate Barack Obama as their candidate for president. But with just over a couple of months to go until polling day, the Obama campaign has run into trouble, and some polls now put him behind his Republican rival John McCain.
It's odd to think this is the same Obama who just a few weeks ago was playing to crowds of hundreds of thousands on a European tour that looked like an advance victory lap. Since then, the Olympics have distracted both the American media and the people, with attention only returning to the election at the weekend when Obama revealed his choice of running mate. For a candidate who has inspired plenty of people with his message of change, Joe Biden was a rather uninspiring choice.
But looking a bit presumptious and picking a worthy but dull vice-presidential candidate aren't the reasons why Barack Obama is suddenly struggling. Many of his supporters in the media say it's all down to the old Republican attack machine, trying to blacken (in both senses) their man as they've helped destroy the chances of candidates in the past. That's probably part of it, but the main factor for the change in the race isn't so much what Mr Obama's been up to - it's the qualities of his opponent.
John McCain's been underestimated from the start of this campaign, but he's got a popularity among independent, white Americans unmatched by any other politician, let alone Barack Obama. It's a popularity he's earned over decades, and he's boosted it still further in recent years with high-profile laws on issues such as ending torture and campaign finance reform. If he does become President McCain, it will be the main factor in his winning the White House.