John Judis draws lessons from Clinton's and McCain's efforts to fight Obama's change message by stressing experience:
I don’t think Hillary Clinton lost to Obama because she stressed experience versus change. She lost because, initially, she didn’t offer anything else – like a strong economic message – and because her campaign made huge tactical errors in handling the caucus states and in planning for a protracted campaign. When Clinton’s campaign got going in the big states (where the economy superseded the Iraq war among voters), her experience was an important factor in her victories...That’s why McCain’s nomination of Sarah Palin has proven so fatal to his campaign. Voters aren’t stupid. They eventually take the question of experience seriously.
Would McCain be poised to win if he had chosen someone else? He would be doing better in the swing states if he had chosen Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty or former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge or Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (even if the nuts on the right would have created an uproar at the convention), but he would probably still be trailing Obama, because he has not shown himself capable to talking about the economy. His daffy performance in September during the start of the financial cancelled out his own “experience message,’ while Obama’s response and his steady performance in the debates (like Ronald Reagan’s performance in the single debate in 1980) convinced voters that he could do the job.