John McCain has been in politics for a long time. He served two terms in the House of Representatives before beginning his career as a U.S. Senator, and has been going strong for 4 terms since 1986.
You’d think a man like him would have a healthy respect for the influence of Arizona Latinos and Latinas whose votes had played a part in his victories over the past 3 decades. But McCain said something surprising and slightly ominous about these voters. According to MotherJones.com, he told the hosts of Phoenix-based show Politics in the Yard,
‘An interesting phenomenon right now is the huge turnouts for the Republican primaries, low turnout for the Democrat primaries. Now if all those people would get behind the Republican candidate, I think we could win this election despite the alienation, frankly, of a lot of the Hispanic voters.’
That’s a big “if” though. For one, Politifact has shown that there’s no evidence of a correlation between high primary turnouts and general election wins. At least not for the last 11 elections. And as if that weren’t enough, The Huffington Post seems to think that Arizona is undergoing a major shift from red to purple, with McCain’s Democrat opponent Ann Kirkpatrick neck-and-neck with the incumbent Senator. The state’s population of Latinos and Latinas likely claims a large responsibility for tipping those scales.
Not one to miss an excellent opportunity to capitalize on her opponent’s slip-up, Kirkpatrick weighed in.
‘Watching that video [of the interview], I was stunned to see how easily he chatted up these predictions, as if he was talking about the weather. No wonder so many Arizonans don’t even recognize John McCain anymore. After 33 years in Washington, he has changed. I wonder what thousands of Latino families across Arizona will think when they hear that John McCain is willing to alienate them as long as he and Republicans win in November.’
Of course, all this might be inconsequential if McCain and his cohorts knew they could count on the “angry white man” vote in Arizona to keep the status-quo. But it seems like it’s not to be. Tea Party candidate Kelli Ward is nipping at his heels. Polls from January actually show her beating the incumbent Senator by 9 points. And although it’s clear that McCain enjoys a lead in a race between himself and Kirkpatrick, it’s certainly not sizable enough for him to pull off another reelection should the GOP be divided against itself.
Then there’s the issue of Trump. Despite lamenting the state of the current GOP run for the nomination, McCain has promised to support the current GOP frontrunner should he win. It’s entirely possible that Trump’s horrible polling numbers among Latinos could bleed over and sour McCain’s reelection bid should he throw his support behind The Orange One.
Whatever you think of the Republican candidates up for election, we could be at a crossroads in American electoral history that redefines what it takes to win an American Presidential election and sweeps a lot of the old candidates and strategies to the side. Sadly, middle of the road veteran conservatives like McCain may be among the unfortunate casualties when the more extreme elements of their party start to lose relevance.