Moulitsas: McCain's unlikely alliance

Moulitsas: McCain's unlikely alliance
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Perhaps no politician today has a more bizarre relationship with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpKushner lands book deal, slated for release in 2022 Biden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Progressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC MORE than Arizona Republican Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain: Harris 'sounded like a moron' discussing immigration Arizona AG Mark Brnovich launches Senate challenge to Mark Kelly Arizona Democrats launch voter outreach effort ahead of key Senate race MORE

One of Trump’s earliest primary campaign boosts came when he called McCain a loser last July: “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Yet despite that brutal insult, McCain is now joined at Trump’s hip. 

McCain certainly understands the difficulties surrounding Trump, now the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. “If Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona, with over 30 percent of the vote being the Hispanic vote, no doubt that this may be the race of my life,” the senator said in a private conversation, recorded and leaked to the media. “If you listen or watch Hispanic media in the state and in the country, you will see that it is all anti-Trump. The Hispanic community is roused and angry in a way that I’ve never seen in 30 years.” Yet publicly he insists all is well, and he has pushed his colleagues hard to embrace Trump, saying it would be “foolish to ignore” his party’s primary electorate. 


So while other endangered Republicans run for cover, desperate to avoid any Trump taint, McCain owns his party’s nominee. That would be a safe play in Wyoming, but not in Arizona, home of the sixth-largest Hispanic population in the country. 

Arizona’s population is 31 percent Hispanic, but only about half — those over the age of 18 and U.S. citizens — are eligible to vote. So of Arizona’s voting-eligible population, Hispanics are 22 percent; and only 18 percent voted in 2012. 

According to data from the University of Southern California, Arizona has at least 139,000 Hispanics eligible to become citizens, many of whom are naturalizing in record numbers. Given that Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, only won the state by roughly 200,000 votes, a combination of increased Hispanic performance, newly naturalized citizens, and Trump’s special blend of insults and demographic and gender alienation could deliver the state to Democrats. Indeed, of the three latest polls in Arizona, one has Trump narrowly ahead, one has Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonProgressives rave over Harrison's start at DNC Hillary Clinton backs Manhattan DA candidate in first endorsement of year NSA leaker Reality Winner released from federal prison MORE narrowly ahead, and the third has them tied. 

The Senate race in the state sports similar splits in polling. Yet there’s a difference between a Clinton lead of 40 percent to 39 percent in the presidential poll aggregate and a Democratic lead of 43 percent to 42 percent in the Senate race. The former features two generally unliked candidates for an open seat; the latter features a longtime incumbent mired in the low 40s, which is desperate territory for someone as well known as McCain, in a state as naturally conservative as Arizona. 

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with Trump MORE, the state’s other senator, is certainly sounding the alarm. “We can’t afford to alienate and demonize the largest-growing demographic out there,” Flake said. And what could Trump do to win Arizona? “Come up with a more realistic immigration policy than build a wall and make the Mexican government pay for it, walk back the Muslim ban, stop talking about getting rid of libel laws. ... I think we’re not in a good position.”


Needless to say, none of that is happening. 

Meanwhile, Democrats have 70 field staffers already on the ground and are recruiting dozens more. How many does Trump have? One. But hey, maybe Trump will get around to hiring more, when he gets around to raising money, when he gets around to running a real campaign. 

Trump called McCain a “loser” last year. Now he’s fighting to make that true in 2016.


Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.