Here's something to think about: considering how close Obama and McCain poll numbers are in the homestretch, would it have made any difference if they hadn't wasted hundreds of millions of dollars campaigning?
The elections since 2000 have shown that Americans are still almost evenly divided when it comes to sticking to their partisanship guns. I'd hypothesize that even if both of these candidates had just stayed home since they were both chosen as their party's picks for president, those poll numbers would be eerily similar, regardless.
Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the American public's behaviour these past 8 years is the fact that even though Bush's campaign of slashing and burning anything resembling democracy, the rule of law and decency, and the fundamentals of his own party have made him one of the most unpopular presidents ever, once again half of the voters see some redeeming quality in choosing a Republican representative who has overwhelmingly supported those policies as a logical and rational choice.
On the Democratic side, considering the embarrassingly low approval numbers of the Democratically-led congress and the failures and capitulation of Harry Reid and Nancy 'impeachment is off the table' Pelosi added to the centrist mantra Obama has been pushing while so many of his supporters think he's some kind of liberal in the true sense of the word, the cognitive dissonance is equally as palpable.
Overall then, would it have made any difference at all if this whole charade involved candidates who literally were a dog and a pony? I don't think so.
You have a Republican who's clumsily tried to convince people that he's not a Bush sockpuppet and a Democrat who really should have been able to muster an incredible amount of support - enough to have a huge lead in the polls at this point - after Dubya destroyed the country. Neither candidate has managed to deliver on their promise to bridge the partisan divide during this campaign and they have both run races that have mirrored the nastiness and shrillness of every other one before them. Why should we think that either of their presidencies will change that mood in the years to come?
America likes to consider itself as being on the cutting edge so, next time, why not take that to the limit - saving enormous amounts of money and the frazzled nerves of election watchers, journalists, pundits and bloggers (not to mention all of those train, bus, car and plane fumes) - and just have a non-campaign campaign? I'm sure the rest of us could find something else to do with our time (and sanity) until election day.