Two Palin-backed candidates lose

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is on a bit of a losing streak.

One of the candidates Palin backed in Tuesday's primaries lost big — Washington Senate candidate Clint Didier (R). Another — Wyoming gubernatorial hopeful Rita Meyer (R) — conceded defeat early Wednesday morning to rival Matthew Mead, who won by some 700 votes.

Given former Rep. Nathan Deal's defeat of Karen Handel in Georgia's Republican runoff for governor, Rep. Todd Tiahrt's loss in the GOP Senate primary in Kansas and Tennessee congressional candidate CeCe Heil's (R) loss, Palin is 0 for 5 so far in August.

It's a losing streak likely to be broken next week when Arizona holds its primary — Palin has endorsed her 2008 ticket-mate, Sen. John McCain (R), over former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R).

Still, it begs the question: If it's party cred or positioning for 2012 that Palin's seeking, how much does it matter when her endorsed candidates lose?

Of those five races that have already been decided this month, it's hard to argue that Palin had a major stake in any aside from Georgia. The former governor swooped into the state the day before the GOP runoff to headline a campaign event for Handel.

And even there, Handel's loss by a razor-thin margin won't exactly hurt Palin.

That runoff split several potential 2012 presidential hopefuls — Mitt Romney and Palin backed Handel, while Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee were behind Deal, the eventual winner.

Palin's endorsements this primary season have ranged from the strategic (think Nikki Haley in South Carolina and Terry Branstad in Iowa) to the personal (Joe Miller in Alaska) to the downright odd (Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy in Maryland).

Palin has also handed her backing to more than a dozen "Mama Grizzlies" this cycle, some who were largely uncontested, like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and others who are total long shots, like congressional candidate Star Parker in California.

Ed Kilgore notes on FiveThirtyEight.com that Palin has only actually headlined campaign events for five of the candidates she has backed this year. Of that group, just two have lost — Vaughn Ward in Idaho and Handel in Georgia.

Looking ahead on the calendar, it's worth watching just how much Palin does for someone like Miller, who is waging a primary challenge against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

In Washington, Didier's campaign reportedly spent weeks trying to set up a campaign event with Palin. It ended up settling for a last-minute robo-call from her instead.

If nothing else, it's clear there are plenty of Republican candidates out there who would love an endorsement from Palin even if it comes in just a few sentences on the former governor's Facebook page. But whether Palin is making the right friends for a potential 2012 run, if that's even her goal, is very much up in the air.