Among candidates, pollsters, and the media, the holy grail of winning elections is winning moderates. Yet I think the conventional wisdom of the experts misses what is significance about moderates.
The media tends to see all elections according to ideology and they thus see independents and moderates as people looking for the middle ground. I tend to think it's probably true for a percentage of moderates, but I think the majority of true moderates (Or at least enough to swing an election) are that way because ideology isn't a big concern. By not feeling strongly about the issues they can instead focus on the human beings running for office. That is consistent with how the electorate rarely chooses the President with the worst personality. You have to go back to 1972 to find the more affable guy losing.
It also explains how a media cultivated moderate like John McCain could lose to a community organizer and friend of radicals. I think the real swing voter doesn't care where you stand on any particular issue, but knows that he'll have to hear you talk for the next 4 years and wants the guy who is the least grating. Maybe candidates, pollsters, and the media know this at heart, but also know that their work would be meaningless if they embraced it. It also explains how hard the Left comes down especially hard on likeable candidates like Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, either of which could match Obama in the personality department. Considering who the Republicans have left, if Obama loses the election then it will be bucking the personality trend and that would say a lot about how worried people are for their future.