Liberal ideology succeeds because it is paranoiac. There is a clear evil, and the only way toward good is to get more in touch with the human, which means pandering to everyone else which is OK because it's also popular.
However, of course, this ideology is also self-consuming, selfish, etc. which is why it has led to destruction of natural ecosystems, globalism, culturelessness, whorish pop culture, stupidity, dysgenics, etc. All people who think know that liberalism is a 2,000 year pattern which has transformed the West from a vital place into a boring, obligation-ridden, tedious one.
But what is the option to liberalism?
American conservatives at least are too infected with liberal ideals. They don't conserve because they're too busy defending an ideology, a symbol, some hot-button issues. Conserving requires that you care for something in its entirely. Defending means you give in and start playing the liberal game, which is symbolic battle in public.
The goons who get hired to manage political campaigns probably started glowing when they saw non-issue issues like abortion and teaching evolution in schools. These seem like attacks on culture, but are really inconsequential, so everyone is happy if we all battle over them and ignore any elephants crowding the room.
My advice to McCain is to stop following the liberal lead. Don't get paranoid and defensive like a liberal; don't try to fight by proving moral equivalence. Instead, portray yourself as a true conservative, or one who guards and promotes culture and family-oriented living, and justify it by saying that doing what's necessary will NEVER be popular but the results are what produce the best people our country has among it.
Even more, get a clear green policy: natural life needs unbroken space. Not a few natural parks; it needs unbroken space in every part of society. We can surely condense our cities a bit. It will be unpopular... but so is everything good, so don't worry about being popular. Just do what is right. Conserve, don't defend.