Don’t pin your hopes on Palin

No one can doubt Sarah Palin’s status as bright, charismatic and deeply popular among hard-core conservatives. But she won her national prominence not through political victories or governing achievements of her own, but through McCain’s surprise decision to anoint a first-term Alaska governor as his running mate.

McCain himself, meanwhile, turns up as Exhibit A for another oft-repeated political conclusion with no basis in recent history.

According to many outspoken right-wingers (particularly on talk radio), Republicans of McCain’s “maverick” or “moderate” stripe doom the party whenever they’re nominated.

But the fact is that in 2008 McCain did better than his fellow, more conservative, Republicans. For example, Republican House candidates that year — most of them unequivocally conservative — captured 42.5 percent of all ballots cast. McCain drew 45.7 percent.