By Jim Ellis
May 9, 2016 — Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) said late last week that he is “worried that [Donald] Trump as the GOP nominee puts his own seat in play”. Later in the day McCain partially walked back his comments by saying he would vote for Trump.
McCain’s observation about his own re-election status is both right and wrong. He’s correct in detecting that his seat is competitive this year, and a sleeper race for the Democrats, but erroneous in attributing the reason to Donald Trump’s impending national presidential candidacy as the Republican nominee.
The Arizona Senate race may well be in play, but it has been trending that way for some time and before Trump became a serious fixture in the presidential campaign. In surveys dating back to mid-January, McCain was seen as dropping into a virtual tie with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), his presumptive general election opponent.
The Behavioral Research Center tested the Grand Canyon State electorate in January and again in April. In between, Arizona-based Merrill Polling also fielded a survey (March 7-11). Two of the three polls found McCain leading Kirkpatrick by just one point. The other found the pair tied.