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.