If you peruse the conservative blogs or listen to talk radio - you can almost feel their anger. There's plenty of blame to go around, they argue. And of course they're right - both parties are to blame - but it doesn't matter.
The average voter doesn't understand the intricacies of economic policy. Heck, when you think about it, nobody really understands the economy. So, voters often rely on simple yet sensible metrics to make political decisions about the economy. One of them has been more or less operative since the election of 1840: if the economy tanks during a Republican administration, vote Democrat. If it tanks during a Democratic administration, vote Republican. Applying this rule to 2008, we get the following. McCain, because he is of the incumbent party, gets the political harm. Obama, because he is of the out party, gets the political benefit. That's all there is to it.
That is not all there is to it. At the beginning of the crisis, Obama's response to the crisis was it is Bush/Republican's fault. McCain's response was let us not blame anyone and hope this subject goes away. When voters hear those two responses, is it any surprise that the issue played to Obama's benefit?
It is true that McCain has started to go on attack on the issue, but he has done it very poorly, and he still has not made the argument that if you think it is bad now, wait till the Democrats are given complete and total political control, it will only get worse. McCain has an economic argument that will turn this financial crisis to his favor, but he has failed to make it so far.
Incidentally, the people who run the McCain campaign and the Obama campaign have almost certainly study the same history that Jay Cost have, and they have probably all learned the same wrong lesson (i.e., nothing that can be done, so find other areas to engage). Consequently, if history ends up repeating itself, the lesson ends up appearing to be true because no attempted to overcome it.
Finally, if Jay Cost is right, the race is over, and there is nothing that McCain can do to change it fortunes, so if they attack Obama on the Economics issue, they really have not lost anything but the time and effort that they invested. Whereas, if I am right, and they take Jay Cost's advice, they have lost their best chance at winning the election. Simple logic dictates that the McCain campaign should be attacking as hard as it can on the economics issue.