Who Lost, The GOP Or McCain?
Obviously both of them, but more important for the future is whether it was the GOP that dragged down McCain or McCain that dragged down the GOP. As I noted in my last post Jeff Goldstein seems to think that if the Republicans had just nominated Fred Thompson, they would have won easily.
So I thought I'd take a look at the issue. McCain/Obama wasn't the only race on the ballot on November 4th, there were also many states (33 to be precise) that had statewide races for the US Senate. How did McCain do as compared to the Republican candidates?
Pretty well, actually. For starters, we throw out Arkansas, as Mark Pryor did not have a GOP opponent on the ballot. Excepting that state, McCain did better than the GOP candidate for Senate in North Carolina, Virginia, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and West Virginia, for a total of 19 states. McCain did worse than the GOP candidate in Alabama, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming, for a total of 13 states. Of the states that McCain did worse in, only two (Maine and Minnesota--pending recount) elected a Republican to the Senate, yet gave their electoral votes to Obama. On the other hand, there were five states (Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia) which went for McCain but sent a Democrat to the Senate.
In the thirty-two states, McCain got 49.3% of the vote, while the GOP candidates for Senate got 46.8% of the vote, a 2.5 percentage point swing. Note also that in the two cases where McCain lost but a GOP senator won (Maine and Minnesota), in neither case was it some "real" conservative. Susan Collins is currently the third-most liberal Republican senator with a 52.2 rating from the American Conservative Union, and Norm Coleman's lifetime rating of 73.0 puts him comfortably on the left side of the GOP. Essentially they were more liberal than McCain, so they did better in their home states.
So it appears obvious to me that the GOP dragged down McCain rather than the opposite. I can understand why those who supported some other guy in the primary would try to claim that McCain cost the GOP the election; the evidence does not back them up.