You want reasons McCain lost? Really? Okay...
1-He looked like Eisenhower in a time where he needed to look more like George Cloony - The media age is unforgiving.
2-He was up against a tide which badly wanted republicans OUT and democrats in. That's why Obama had both houses of congress democrat.
3-He ran against arguably one of the most charismatic Presidential candidates in modern times.
4-He not only ran against Obama, but the MSLM as well. If you don't think so check out the number of favorable story's for Obama vs McCain. It's incredible! The press came out swinging for Obama in the democratic primaries by bashing Hillary and just kept swinging until he was living in the White House. By the way they'll do the same thing this time.
5-Palin hurt him as you've correctly pointed out. But for many reasons. While Obama actually had less experience than Palin the press dwelled on HER lack of experience. But in all fairness the MSLM threw fast balls at her and she could not hit them. By the way Obama got some nice slow pitches right down the middle from the same people.
And those are the main reasons that McCain lost.