To clarify, he’s the least popular incumbent in his home state among the many states that PPP has polled this year. This is a survey of Arizona, not of the entire U.S., in case that makes a difference to you. And maybe it should: A former national nominee would probably poll better nationally, based on pure name recognition (and maybe some sympathy for his defeat), than he might among locals who are following his Senate votes day to day.
But let’s not let the fine print spoil this. At last, my friends, people of all partisan stripes have found something they can agree on:
If you don’t understand how a politician can be nearly equally obnoxious to voters across the spectrum, check this out. It’s not quite equal once you delve into ideology:
McCain’s endless boosterism for amnesty and for aggressive interventionism abroad has landed him in an unusual sweet spot with voters. He’s far too disdainful of Obama to earn much goodwill from Democrats for his moderation on immigration, especially liberal Democrats who aren’t as comfortable with hawkishness as many Obama fans are. And he’s far too disdainful of “tea party hobbits” and “wacko birds” to earn much goodwill from conservative hawks, especially after his cheery partnership with Chuck Schumer on the Gang of Eight bill. Imagine how difficult it is to be a war hero, a former party standard-bearer, and an elder statesman in the Senate and be this universally disliked. Choosing the wrong policies isn’t enough, I think; you need to alienate people on a gut level with your attitude too. Somehow Maverick’s pulled it off. I’m impressed.
Here’s my favorite data point. How many years has McCain been pushing immigration reform now? I know, I know, he became a border hawk temporarily from 2008-10 in order to win his primaries, but no one took that very seriously. And besides, voters are interested mainly in what politicians have done for them lately. McCain’s been a warrior for amnesty fans ever since immigration reform got going last year. You’d think Latinos in Arizona would be softer on him than other groups. Not really:
He trails by more than 40 points among Latinos in head-to-head hypothetical Senate match-ups with Democrats Gabby Giffords and Richard Carmona. Head to head against Janet Napolitano, whom he leads overall by eight points, he trails among Latinos by 25.
Exit question: Is it time to start the McCain retirement watch in earnest?