John McCain May Not Be An Endangered Incumbent Anymore
A 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.