Krugman believes people want someone who is “serious”:
In a way, you can’t blame Mr. McCain for campaigning on trivia—after all, it’s worked in the past. Most notably, President Bush got within hanging-chads-and-butterfly-ballot range of the White House only because much of the news media, rather than focusing on the candidates’ policy proposals, focused on their personas: Mr. Bush was an amiable guy you’d like to have a beer with, Al Gore was a stiff know-it-all, and never mind all that hard stuff about taxes and Social Security. And let’s face it: six weeks ago Mr. McCain’s focus on trivia seemed to be paying off handsomely.
But that was before the prospect of a second Great Depression concentrated the public’s mind….
[T]he Barack Obama voters see now is cool, calm, intellectual and knowledgeable, able to talk coherently about the financial crisis in a way Mr. McCain can’t. And when the world seems to be falling apart, you don’t turn to a guy you’d like to have a beer with, you turn to someone who might actually know how to fix the situation.
UPDATE: Brad DeLong has more on this, with graphics (but without Annoying Videos).
Somewhere, McCain’s uber-handlers are trying to figure out why they didn’t go with Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who would not have been subject to this:
Meanwhile, the video of the night on November 4th should be this one (NSFSanePeople):
*Or its Economics equivalent