Not definitive but certainly directional.

I don’t put a whole lot of stock in prognosticating on an individual poll. For one thing, I learned one absolute as an undergraduate engineering student and that was: Never, ever give a statistician your checkbook. I do pay attention to one thing about polling though, and that’s direction. And frankly, today’s entry in the McCain/Hayworth polling came as no surprise. You can find all of the polling data at Pollster.com, but the chart looks like this:

The red line is McCain, the blue line is JD Hayworth and the green line is “Undecided”. The latest hard numbers, from a Behavior Research Center telephone poll with registered Republicans (not “likely voters”) conducted from June 30 through July 11 are McCain: 62, Hayworth: 19, Undecided 12. Frankly, as a side note, given the fact that both of these guys are VERY well known in the state I really cannot believe that anybody who’s lived here for more than a month could possibly be “undecided”, but I guess there’s just no accounting for some people.

John McCain is no prize. Putting it mildly. He’s no conservative, he’s spent at least the last ten years operating in nothing but his own best interest – as defined by the amount of adoring Sunday TV time he can scarf. He frequently went out of his way to use his considerable influence in the US Senate to embarrass former President Bush simply because he had an axe to grind from 2000. His Gang of 14 groupies arguably gained us absolutely nothing and cost us about a dozen very highly qualified, conservative judicial nominees. His “torture amendment” was an absolute affront to our military. I could go on for a long time with specifics, but I’ll end with the note that in my opinion, McCain hung his honor and sense of duty in the closet with his Naval uniforms when he retired. I’m sure he’s taken out his uniforms on occasion, his honor and sense of duty are still stuck in the back corner, untouched.

I’m long on record saying that McCain was potentially beatable this cycle, but only by a solid conservative with statewide name recognition and a solid approval rating. That would be one of two people: John Shadegg or Jeff Flake. JD Hayworth, McCain’s opposition has only one of those things going for him: statewide name recognition. He’s certainly no conservative, especially in today’s market where the mark of a winner will be strong fiscal conservative credentials and JD’s about as fiscally conservative as any incumbent Democrat in the US Senate. He spent twelve years in the US House and his singular accomplishment was never missing an opportunity to make a complete fool of himself in front of any TV camera he could find. He’s a terminal whiner, a complete buffoon and he’s never met a spending bill he couldn’t add something into before supporting. JD lost his seat in CD05 to Harry Mitchell not because of George Bush and not because of his “hardline stand” on immigration. He lost it because the voters in CD05 were sick of listening to JD Hayworth.

The bottom line for this race has been and is, Arizona voters aren’t fond of McCain’s policies but the respect him personally because of his service and his status as a POW. Those same voters are more approving of Hayworth’s policies but harbor a visceral hatred for him personally. There’s more, related to demographics and a little related to endorsements, but the real bottom line is that JD Hayworth is toxic and probably half of McCain’s vote total will be from people who can’t stand JD. The internals for the latest poll are here, and the headline reinforces what I’ve noted above: JOHN MCCAIN TROUNCING J.D. HAYWORTH BUT HIS JOB RATINGS STILL SOFT.

The Magellan poll – which is a Republican polling firm – did an excellent job of highlighting my contention about the candidate’s respective images:

Among all voters, 60% have a favorable opinion of John McCain and 37% have an unfavorable image. This puts his image ratio at 1.6 to 1, which is decent for an incumbent. When looking at John McCain’s image rating by voter subgroup, it quickly becomes apparent that women have a more favorable opinion of him than men. Among all female voters, 66% have a favorable opinion of John McCain and 30% have an unfavorable opinion of him. Among all male voters, 54% have a favorable opinion of him and 44% have an unfavorable opinion. JD Hayworth’s image rating is “upside down” with 38% having a favorable opinion of him and 50% having an unfavorable opinion of him.

I don’t expect to see McCain win by 35, but 20 wouldn’t surprise me one little bit. My fondest hope is that JD will move to the Carolinas and go back into the sportscaster business. Or open a hotdog stand.