Winning an election is all about advertising and it’s all in the message. McCain is using the tried and true Republican message which is attack the opponent. This message has worked very well in the past, but is not working now. Attacking the opponent works when the population is happy. When things are not going well, this type of strategy does not work.
When people are unhappy, a political candidate must explain what can be done to make things better. When people are already happy, changing things can only present risk. Thus, attacking your opponent becomes an effective strategy.
When people are unhappy, they naturally want change. The appropriate message is a two-part message. The first part is to tell people what you will change. The second part is to explain how that change will help them. This is the most elemental part of advertising, tell people how you will solve their problem.
McCain has completely failed to explain how he will change the country, with one exception. He did announce a policy to bail out some homeowners but he did not explain how that will help the rest of the population, if it will. Even Obama doesn’t entirely get it. His message has been one of change and is telling people what he will change, but it doesn’t really tell people how his policies will actually make things better for them. However, his message is clearly the better message at this time.