Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Is McCain winning Arizona a done deal?

The views on John McCain having to compete for Arizona often drift to two extremes. The first is that he is a lock even if he didn't spend a dollar, the second is that he is in trouble.

Obviously the truth is that he is somewhere in the middle, leaning toward having the race already wrapped up. Here are some numbers from the 2000 primary that are interesting.

John McCain won New Hampshire 60% to 40%.
He won Arizona with 59.8 percent of the vote.

There was the same or more support for John McCain in New Hampshire than in his home state of Arizona.

Keep in mind, however, that this was after South Carolina when McCain's momentum had been halted, there were perhaps others who would have voted for McCain had Arizona been crucial to his nomination. The question is, will he hold the 59.8% he had six years ago, or has he slipped?

Obviously, McCain isn't taking the state race lightly and is putting machinery into place early to secure the needed number. I would argue that his appointment of Mike Hellon more than makes up for his disappointment with the Symington fiasco. Here's why:

1. There just isn't a counterweight to Hellon that somebody like Guiliani or Romney could employ south of Maricopa. Hellon has the contacts, trust, and access to what needs to be done for McCain in Southern Arizona. I suppose someone like Jim Click could get involved, but I don't see him or any of the even marginal talent defecting away from McCain in southern Arizona. Perhaps Linda Barber, but I don't even see that.

2. All Hellon needs to do is drive turnout. In 2000, Pima County went for McCain by 68.1% Offsetting a 57% performance in Maricopa County. I would suspect that if any county has held it's support of McCain, it is Pima. The more Primary voters Hellon turns out, the better McCain does statewide. For the most part Mike does not even need to campaign and change minds, just motivate people to show up.

If he can lock up Southern Arizona, McCain can then worry about his opponents poaching Arizona money, which I believe was his main concern all along.


sirocco said...


You certainly would know far better than I, but looking at it from a slightly different perspective ....

I don't believe McCain is in "trouble" in AZ, but I don't think he's very set either. I do agree if there is anywhere he's in great shape, it's S. AZ.

However, that's could be an indicator of bigger issues. His support in Maricopa was notably lower than in S. AZ the last time around. It looks to me like (and again, I make no claims to understanding the current state of R affairs very well) recent trends have shown Maricopa R's moving closer to "strong" conservatives.

While I think McCain fits that bill, I don't think that's the general perception of him. He's cultivated, over a long period of time, the image of a "maverick" to try to help give himself an (in my mind, undeserved) reputation of being relatively moderate. I don't see that playing well in Maricopa right now.

So, if anything, I think his support in Maricopa has likely slipped. Enough for him to lose the state? Doubtful ... but certainly enough for him to have to be a little worried about it, and shore up support. Hellon is a great choice for S. AZ, and will make sure McCain's "base" is solid, but it's going to take more to hold on to the folks up north.

Anonymous said...

I believe McCain has lost support in southern AZ due to his support of the amnisty bill. I don't beleive I will be voting for him.