Alternate headline: “Artist Formerly Known As Maverick soon to be Artist Formerly Known As Senator.”

McCain has been losing ground since January when he picked up 53% of the potential GOP Primary vote and Hayworth had only 31% support. Last month, the longtime senator and 2008 GOP presidential candidate earned 48% of the vote, while 41% of likely primary voters supported his challenger.

Eighty-six percent (86%) of GOP Primary voters in Arizona think the recently-passed national health care bill should be repealed, with 78% who strongly favor repeal. Fifty percent (50%) of those who strongly favor repeal support Hayworth; 41% of those voters support McCain.

Eighty percent (80%) of primary voters say their own views on the major issues of the day are closer to the views of the average Tea Party member than to those of President Obama. Forty-two percent (42%) of those voters back McCain, while 49% support Hayworth. Among the 10% of primary voters who say their views are closer to the president’s, McCain earns 68% of the vote, Hayworth 16%.

Interestingly, only nine percent of primary voters view McCain “very unfavorably” compared to 18 percent who feel that way about Hayworth; you’d think ol’ Mav would be at least equal in that category given how the base loathes him. I’m not sure how to reconcile these results with dKos’s poll from a few weeks ago showing McCain with a comfortable 15-point lead, though. Could be simple error on Kos’s part, or it could be that McCain caught a bounce from Palin’s appearances on the trail which Kos was able to measure but which dissipated by the time Rasmussen conducted this latest survey. (Both polls were of likely voters.) Either way, barring some catastrophic screw-up by Hayworth, looks like this’ll be a race to the bitter end, which means we can expect plenty more cynically delicious red meat like this from Maverick all the way up to the primary. Why, by the time August rolls around, I wouldn’t be surprised to find him voting to the right of Jim DeMint.

Exit question: None of us wants to contemplate it, but contemplate it we must. If McCain loses a squeaker to Hayworth, does he borrow a page from his pal Joe Liebs and run in the general election as an independent? Arizona’s a photo negative of Connecticut: The Democratic opposition will be largely token (both McCain and Hayworth lead Rodney Glassman by 20 points in hypothetical match-ups), so if Maverick runs as an indie, Democratic voters may have to make a hard choice and shift to supporting him in the interest of defeating Hayworth. The one big difference between that scenario and Lieberman’s run, of course, is that McCain was the other party’s presidential nominee. Can Arizona Dems put aside ill will from the 2008 election in order to stop J.D.? And will Sarahcuda hit the trail for an independent Maverick if he follows Joementum’s lead? Can’t wait to blog all this.