McConnell survives

Congratulations to Sen. Mitch McConnell, who withstood the anti-Bush tide to win a fifth term in the U.S. Senate.

As the race unexpectedly tightened in recent weeks, McConnell's fate was seen as a gauge of voters' dissatisfaction with Republican policies. A McConnell loss would have signaled a total rout. So his survival is good news for the GOP.

While national observers were looking at the race as a bellweather, voters in Kentucky seemed to think of it as a choice between the lesser of two evils.

At least that's what independent opinion polling suggested.

Fewer than half of likely voters had a favorable view of McConnell's job performance.

That's a low rating after 24 years in the Senate and a barrage of commercials, financed by a $17.8 million war chest, touting his accomplishments for Kentucky.

McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, has marched almost in lockstep with one of the most unpopular presidents ever, which might explain his high negatives.

McConnell must consider himself lucky that the Democrats did not nominate a candidate weighed down with less baggage than Bruce Lunsford, whose negatives were almost as high as McConnell's.

McConnell still looked almost invincible last January when bigger-name Democrats demurred from challenging him.

Kentucky's master political strategist will return to an altered political landscape in Washington, his own power diminished.

It will be interesting to see how he navigates this Democratic tide.