First there was the Palin pick. You can argue that this was sheer brilliance, but all the evidence I've seen says that it was a gutsy and dangerous throw of the dice that, for a while, worked out great. For all you can complain about Palin by the numbers (heaven knows, I think she'd make a *dreadful* President), and argue she was mostly chosen to shore up the weakness on his right flank, her sheer charisma suddenly bolstered things in ways he never could have done on his own. She comes across on the stump as extremely *likeable*, and at least since Reagan that's been a very important quality in a Presidential candidate. So for a couple of weeks the McCain campaign was flying high, mostly on the grounds that people warmed to her.
Now, though, his luck has turned sour. He may have rolled a good point with Palin, but they couldn't quite roll a win because her record, when you look at it, is far from spotless -- as I've said before, her governing style bears an unsettling resemblance to Bush's. And he may well have rolled snake-eyes on the economy: it's hard to imagine anything short of a sudden sex scandal that would be so bad for him. Not only has he been a pretty ardent advocate of the overdone deregulation that led to the current mess (indeed, was still pushing that line several days after it became clear to everyone else that it was a mistake), he was badly involved the *last* time the economy nearly melted down because of bad mortgages and had to be bailed out. Economics is, in general, his worst subject -- not only does he understand it poorly, but he's surrounded himself with a *far* weaker team on the subject than Obama has, so he can't even credibly claim that he'd be saved by smarter people than himself.
Mind, the election is still over a month off -- enough time for him to roll a seven and get on his feet. But for now, the polls are all trending in Obama's direction, and we're pretty much back to where we were before the conventions, with Obama leading by a modest margin. So he's getting down to his last throws.
(For reference, the same scuttlebutt says that Obama's game of choice is back-room poker. It doesn't surprise me at all, and I suspect he's a rather dangerous opponent in it -- he's got the sort of cool under fire that tends to quietly and unflashily win in the long haul, even if he may be down a few hands in the middle...)