With the GOP primary just a month away, U.S. Sen. John McCain is pulling further away from rival J.D. Hayworth, and Rasmussen Reports is no longer listing the incumbent senator as vulnerable to an upset from his conservative challenger.
A Rasmussen Reports poll released on July 26 showed McCain with a 54-34 lead over Hayworth. Rasmussen conducted the automated push-button telephone poll of 595 likely Republican primary voters on July 21.
Seven percent of respondents said they would vote for another candiate, and 6 percent said they were unsure who they would cast their ballots for in the Aug. 24 primary.
McCain’s leads have varied wildly depending on the poll, with Rasmussen giving him an 11-percent lead in January and the Behavior Research Center showing him up by a whopping 45 points in mid-July. But every poll shows the four-term senator pulling away from his conservative challenger.
Rasmussen, which has conducted the most frequent polling, sporting single-digit leads in March and April but upping his advantage to 12 points in May and 11 points in the company’s last poll in June. Other polling hasn’t been any better for Hayworth, with a Magellan Strategies poll in late June showing McCain with a 13-point lead, and a Rocky Mountain Poll in mid-July showed McCain with a 45-point lead.
While many of Rasmussen’s previous polls described McCain as potentially vulnerable because his support consistently hovered around 50 percent, usually a bad sign for an incumbent. Rasmussen noted that McCain’s approval numbers were similar to those of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, who lost in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.
But unlike Specter’s challenger, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, Rasmussen said Hayworth is not gaining any ground on his opponent.
“That comparison no longer works,” Rasmussen wrote of the Hayworth-Specter comparison. “In the Arizona match-up, Hayworth is falling further behind in the final month before the primary.”
McCain is likely reaping the benefits of a direct mail and television advertising blitz. According to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission, McCain spent $15.6 million through the end of June, including $10.1 million in the second quarter of the year alone. Much of the money was transferred from his 2008 presidential bid. Only one U.S. Senate candidate, Connecticut Republican Linda McMahon, has spent more.