Take this article from Ad Age. You will find GOP advisers insisting that the basic tactics of negative ads are solid, but McCain is losing because he is running the wrong negative ads.
Yes, there is a strong underlying science/strategy to negative ads that makes certain kinds of negative attacks effective and difficult to counter. But it is also true that electorates adapt and change, as do opponents and media coverage.
Happily, these folks don't believe in evolution. And I find their current strategy does not boast much intelligent design. Going to be quite a challenge for the GOP to reconstruct itself, even if McCain does pull out a miracle.