Friday, November 20, 2009

What if McCain Loses?

A new pol shows Senator John McCain (R-AZ) is vulnerable to a primary challenge from the right. In response, he's busy flip-flopping his way over to oppose bipartisan climate-change efforts.

I have to say, I'd be thrilled if John McCain loses a primary. From my perspective, it's win-win. His reputation for bipartisan maverickism has always been overstated, so it is not like Democrats are losing a member that is easy to work with. But a primary defeat would set off a torrent of "the GOP has been hijacked by a far-right base and has no room for moderates" reporting by a punditocracy that still, beyond all reason, sees McCain as a national bellweather.

Plus, it gives Dems a fighting chance to flip the Arizona seat.

It's all good from my vantage point.


PG said...

McCain actually won a smaller percentage of the AZ vote in 2008 than Bush did in 2004. That can't be good.

chingona said...

McCain is not popular with Arizona Republicans. They hate him with a fiery hate, particularly because they are very far right on immigration and he is not. He tends to win handily because he's reasonably popular with Democrats and independents and because the Democrats don't put up very credible general election candidates.

One thing that might save him from a primary challenge: Independents, who are a substantial percentage of registered voters in AZ, can vote in primaries. If Independents hate the challenger enough, they might turn out to rescue McCain.

On the other hand, I think Independents are sometimes mischaracterized as moderates. They might be independent because they're to the right of the Republican Party.

Also, McCain obsession with not doing pork means he doesn't do jack shit in term of getting federal money to the state. That doesn't make him super-popular. And he doesn't really care about Arizona issues.

Kyl is super-conservative, but he's smart and wonky and has really put his head down and worked on some important, complicated issues for the state, in particular resolving outstanding Indian water rights claims.

joe said...

That's only one side of a win-win.

What if McCain wins? What benefit is there then since you've conceded that he's not a good senator?

chingona said...

No benefit. Just a continuation of the status quo.

I'm not advocating for McCain. Just offering my analysis as an (until very recently) Arizona resident.

I'd rather not see a super right-wing nutjob get the job, mostly just for the overall composition of the Senate, since I don't live in Arizona anymore. (Though I totally agree with David that McCain's mavericky moderateness is way over-rated.) A Democrat might be able to win statewide against a very conservative Republican, but it's not a sure bet at all. Also, the Democrat who I hear talked about the most is someone I really don't care for, which makes it hard to get excited about booting McCain.

joe said...

I was actually directing the above to David, since he said "win-win." If McCain wins the primary he definitely wins reelection in a Democratic president's midterm, so no win there. (McCain running slightly behind Bush in Arizona tells us very little because the extra 4-5 points we might generously expect him to get in his home state get cancelled out by Obama running 4.5 points ahead of Kerry.)

For the record chingona, while it's possible that a tea party guy primary-ing McCain out would be generally harmful to Republicans from a PR perspective I share some of your apprehension: the tea party guy would probably win because of the structural Republican advantage in 2010 in Arizona (home of Joe Arpaio for fuck's sake). Even if the tea party guy is, objectively speaking, only marginally worse than McCain he's almost certain to run for reelection in 2016, when the US will probably be facing Obama Fatigue. 80 year old McCain is much more likely to vacate the seat. (You've got to game this stuff out.)

chingona said...

Not only the home of Joe Arpaio. According to the Rasmussen poll this all comes from, a majority of Arizona voters believe Arpaio has been good for the image of the state. Put that in your pipe ...

(And thanks for the clarification. That occurred to me after I'd already replied.)

Superdestroyer said...

Who cares. The Republican Party is irrelevant at the national level. The Democrats just keep pretending that the Republicans are relevant so that the Democrats can blame the Republicans for anything that goes wrong.

Does is really matter to the people of Arizona if they are represented by an incompetent Republican or an incompetent Democrat.

The long run question is when will the media admit that the Republicans are irrelevant and that the U.S. is a defacto one party state.