John McCain May Not Be An Endangered Incumbent Anymore

mccain-topperA new poll in the Arizona Senate GOP primary seems to indicate that John McCain may not have as much trouble in 2010 as previously believed:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters in Arizona finds McCain with 52% of the vote to challenger J.D. Hayworth’s 40%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.


Any incumbent who earns less 50% support is considered potentially vulnerable and McCain has been hovering around that mark all year. The 2008 Republican Presidential nominee cannot be comforted by the fact that his level of support in early primary polling is similar to the numbers for Arlen Specter. Specter, defeated by Joe Sestak, led in just about all early polling but could never get much above the 50% level of support. That provided Joe Sestak with a chance to defeat the 30-year veteran of the Senate yesterday.

One indication of McCain’s growing concern about the primary race is his recent shake-up of his campaign staff, replacing his top local staffers with major national political advisers. Still, there is a difference between having an opportunity and capitalizing on it. It remains to be seen whether Hayworth can find a message that will put him over the top in August.

Scott Rasmussen’s characterization of the race notwithstanding,  that this poll is actually good news for McCain. Hayworth has not been anywhere close to a lead in any of the polls taken to date, and has struggled to break out of the mid-30s. The primary is still more than three months away, but absent some massive shift of the Arizona electorate, it seems likely that McCain will survive what has been the most formidable challenge of his Senate career.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. says:

    When there is a poll that says exactly what a Republican incumbent (or the Republican Establishment) wants to hear does it always seem to be Rasmussen, or is it just me?

  2. C.Red–It’s not just you. Rasmussen tends to run more conservative–although its not normally by so much as to be an outlier. There have been been a few times that one of their poll results have seemed suspect to me, but in general they tend to be accurate while shifting slightly conservative compared to the poll of polls. Just like the dkos/research 2000 polls are accurate but do tend to shift slightly left when compared to the average.

    As to the greater gist of the article…It’s always confused me why the McCain race has gotten so much attention over the past few months. Sure, there’s the good narrative of the party’s presidential nominee receiving a challenge–but that’s where the story stops. As far as I’m aware, Hayworth’s poll numbers have never shown him to be really competitive with McCain. When has has inched up, the McCain campaign has had pretty decent and effective tv spots prepared to drive Hayworth’s numbers back down (the danged fence commercial being an exception rather than the rule).

    Hayworth’s as fringe as Zels and GA. The people of AZ have already voted him out once due to his views, and they don’t seem eager to give him a second chance.

  3. Wayne says:

    It is hard to see a party Presidential Candidate get defeated in the next state election. There is a good deal of prestige that he brings to their state and loyalty felt toward him. However I can see many switching to Hayworth if McCain slips up and give them some sort of excuse to. I give Hayworth a 30% chance.

  4. TangoMan says:

    The power of the Governor Sarah Palin endorsement.

  5. anjin-san says:

    Governor Sarah Palin

    Miss I’m going to betray my oath of office and stab the people who voted for me in the back because there is a whole lot of cash waiting for me in the lower 48 Sarah Palin endorsement.

    Fixed that for you.

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    The power of the Governor former half-term Governor Sarah Palin endorsement.

    This is a fun game!

  7. robsk says:

    30% chance is way too high for JD. He’s failed us in the past and did not serve honorably. He will be crushed.

  8. Lala says:

    McCain Just hit the 1 million mark in the PAC. No one is even close to him and almost all of it is from 200 or less donations. I think it’s safe to say that the people are still behind there senator.

  9. Harlod says:

    Neil all I have to say is thank you! There is no reason why JD gets the attention he does except that he’s a former media member and knows how to get attention.

  10. tye says:

    Wow I love these results but I saw another poll where JD only had 38%. I like that one allot better.