I tried to make clear the fact that I wasn't saying "good riddance." Note my introduction: "The 2006 election was tragic for conservatives who did lose several key races." Even so, I think RINO-ism hurt real conservatives:
* CONRAD BURNS was a solid conservative on most issues, except immigration. Even many liberal sources felt that charges of corruption related to Abramoff resonated especially strongly with Burns because of statements he made which appeared out of touch. A stronger stand on certain conservative issues, like immigration, may have helped him win.
* RICK SANTORUM lost the election when he pulled out every stop to help Arlen Specter defeat Pat Toomey in the 2004 Republican primary. Specter rewarded the hard work of Bush and Santorum by leading a frontal assault against the nomination of "conservative" judges. Pennsylvania voters decided Rick Santorum was simply an empty suit, and not a real conservative, even though I believe this conclusion was tragic.
* GEORGE ALLEN lost his election on sheer incompetence. Slow, unbelievable responses made the "macaca" issue metasticize to dominate the entire race. Webb succeeded in making the general election seem like an open Republican primary election between a racist boob and himself.
I can't really address Talent's loss... I only know that his approval ratings practically never reached 50% his entire term.