The list of far right Republican insurgents defeating candidates perceived to be 'moderates' in Senate primaries this year is getting longer and longer. Marco Rubio knocked Charlie Crist out of the party in Florida, Rand Paul destroyed Trey Grayson, Sharron Angle came from behind to defeat Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, and Ken Buck increasingly appears to be headed for a victory over Jane Norton in Colorado.
One race I don't think will be added to that list is Arizona. It's not that John McCain is more popular than those other establishment candidates- he actually had a negative approval rating with Republican primary voters when we looked at his race in late April at 44/45. But the simple reality is that JD Hayworth is a very unpopular, unappealing candidate. And my guess is that will prove to be McCain's saving grace.
That same Arizona primary poll we did in late April found that in contrast to these other up and coming GOP candidates Hayworth is already well known- and not well liked. We found a negative 37/40 favorability spread for him on that poll. A more recent Magellan poll taken last week after some bad press for Hayworth found his fav numbers with Republican primary voters even worse at 38/50.
The support for the Rubios, Pauls, Angles, and Bucks of the world is certainly being driven to some extent by anti-establishment sentiment but GOP voters also by and large like each of those politicians personally. They're not completely voting against something. But Republicans in Arizona simply don't like Hayworth and because of that I imagine McCain will hold on in the end. I actually think there's a very good chance McCain could have lost the primary if a less well known conservative rising star had challenged him, provided that person could have raised the money to be competitive. But that's water under the bridge now.