An underwhelming win-loss ratio

AN UNDERWHELMING WIN-LOSS RATIO…. As the day progressed, media outlets decided that former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) had a great day yesterday. I think reporters are exaggerating this quite a bit.

Mike Allen named Palin one of the day’s big winners. So did Chris Cillizza. Wins by Palin-backed candidates yesterday is currently Mark Halperin’s top story.

Time ran a whole piece today about the significance of “The Palin Endorsement.”

TIME asked Palin how she makes her endorsement decisions. “Oftentimes I’m looking at the candidate who shares the circumstances in which I’ve been: underfunded, up against the machine, no big endorsements, running a grassroots campaign with the help of volunteer friends and family,” Palin told TIME. “When I see that, and can feel the momentum they can create with their passion in spite of greater challenges than their more comfortable opponents have, then I empathize, I relate, and I want to help.” […]

Palin “certainly has an appeal to grassroots conservatives, which has benefited some candidates and helped put them over the finish line,” says Ken Spain, communications director for the National Republican Campaign Committee, which helps elect Republicans to Congress. “Her support does tend to drive grassroots donations to individual candidates.”

Before the media gets too excited about the notion that Palin has some kind of Midas touch, it’s worth taking a closer look. Her record isn’t nearly as impressive as some are making it out to be.

For one thing, a lot of Palin’s favorites have lost badly. Palin’s support didn’t help Cecile Bledsoe in Arkansas’s 3rd yesterday, nor did it help Angela McGlowan’s congressional race last week (McGlowan came in a distant third). Palin backed Vaughn Ward (R) in Idaho’s 1st, and even campaigned with him, and he lost. Let’s also not forget that Palin went all out in support of Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd, and he lost in a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat in well over a century.

For that matter, this record is poised to get worse. Palin endorsed Clint Didier’s Senate campaign in the state of Washington, and he’s going to lose, and she’s backing Joe Miller’s Senate campaign in Alaska, and his prospects are poor.

But what about all the wins the media is touting? There are obviously some success stories, as evidenced by the Haley, Fiorina, and Branstad victories yesterday. But her win-loss ratio is boosted by the fact that she sometimes throws her support to some candidates late in the process, after they’ve already positioned themselves to win.

In Iowa, for example, Branstad was already well ahead when he picked up Palin’s unsolicited endorsement, and a week later, he won by a smaller margin than any of the polls predicted. Palin backed Fiorina in California, Perry in Texas, and Martinez in New Mexico, but only after they’d already positioned themselves as the Republican frontrunners.

With that in mind, the media shouldn’t get carried away with these “Palin’s backing pays off for pals” stories, but I guess it’s already too late.