Looking at the final election results in the map below of the states where McCain led after Palin's VP nomination speech (but were eventually lost ) if they were won by MCain/Palin i.e. if the financial collapse had not happened before election day then McCain would have been five Electoral College short of the 270 required to win.
Thus if Florida/North Carolina/Virginia/Ohio/Indiana/Nevada and the one Nebraska vote which totalled 92 EV's were added to the 173 he received on election day he would have ended up with 265 Electoral College votes-5 short.
New Hampshire's 4 EC votes would have brought him to a 269/269 tie at which point the House, with A Democratic majority, would have chosen Obama. Thus McCain would have needed to win any of Iowa/Colorado/New Mexico. The following tracking polls show that at no time-even at the height of his post convention, Palin created "bounce" would he have come anywhere near to winning any of the three. In fact in none of the cases was the polling even close, and in Iowa for example, it was landslide territory.
McCain went into the lead September 9th when the tracking polls had caught up with Palin's speech.The economy collapsed September 16th, he "suspended" his campaign September 25th and the tracking polls caught up with him on October 1st flipping Florida and Ohio and the election was over at that point.
Below is an earlier article which discusses other aspects of McCain's campaign. It is absolutely clear that even with Palin's help and if there had been no major economic collapse the Bush years were too much to overcome. It is also absolutely clear that Palin was a major asset to McCain's campaign and played no part in his loss.
Not that it will the slightest difference to the Palin haters, especially those in the GOP and especially those who were in the McCain camp in 2008 . Especially those who subsequently tried to shift the responsibility for the loss from them to Palin. But here is, another, hugely detailed analysis of why McCain lost. And no, it was not because of Palin for the umteenth time. DUSTIN HAWKINS does a great job.