He lost. I mean, he really, really lost.
I know there are some angry not-ex-McCainiacs out there who're convinced that he lost because "the GOP establishment was against him." On the contrary, there are two simple reasons why he lost: (1) He's a fairly creepy guy; (2) as a wag in the Washington Post put it, McCain did a fabulous job of reaching out to a lot of groups, but alienating a single, key constituency: Republicans. (As a friend of mine put it the other night, Dean is just like John McCain: Another egomaniac too liberal for his own party.) You see, when you run in the Republican primaries, it is generally a good idea to appeal to Republicans. Groundbreaking, I know, but there it is.
From the anti-Catholicism (asides about theocrats who want to bow to one man and ban all abortions), anti-evangelicism (calling for banning the evangelicals from the party), campaign finance reform silliness (there went the civil libertarians and any conservatives who actually read the First Amendment at some point), off-putting, classless, if funny, jokes ("Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father"), the ad hominems on anyone who dared question his candidacy, the easy handshakes with Senate liberals, the obvious egomania, channelling the ghost of Barry Goldwater's later years, and so on, McCain managed to gain the following Republican constituencies:
(1) The Weekly Standard;
(2) Northeastern RINOs (and not all of those, either);
(3) The more disconnected libertarians;
(4) The anti-religious bigots; and
(5) The deranged (meaning those who'd go on to vote Gore, admittedly with some overlap with (2)).
That he got anywhere at all is a testament to how skewing open primaries can be, and how odd Granite State Republicans (the sensible Brothers Judd excepted, of course) can be.
Which brings me back to the original point: McCain's