What the Arizona Primary Means for John McCain

He's likely to win today, but at what cost?

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Arizona Senator John McCain is likely to win today's Republican primary against J.D. Hayworth, in which polls show McCain up by about 25 percent. (McCain is also up by 20 percent over Democrat Rodney Glassman, whom McCain will face in the general election in November.) But at what cost victory? McCain has hedged significantly to the right to defeat Hayworth. As this cartoon in the Arizona Star shows, many Arizonans feel there are "two McCains," their long-time, "maverick," straight-talking Senator, and the new conservative, Tea Party-courting McCain. Here's what observers say about the political toll of today's likely primary victory for McCain.

  • 'Faustian Bargain' But It Worked  Time's Jay Newton-Small calls McCain's campaign "running so hard to the right ... [it's] a Faustian bargain from which you risk never regaining your soul." However, the end result is "looking pretty predictable: as a McCain staffer put it, the Arizona senator's GOP rival, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, 'is deader than Elvis.'"
  • How McCain Won: Running Right  Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis explains how McCain went from what looked like the end of his career to near-certain victory. "For one thing, people got to know J.D. Hayworth as a guy who made controversial statements about the President's birth certificate and gay marriage, and who had spent part of his post-Congressional career For another, John McCain did the only thing he could do to survive, he moved to the right on issues like immigration, an act epitomized by a commercial in which he finished with the line 'Build the darn fence.' That ad, combined with McCain's connections in the state and Hayworth own mis-steps changed the race forever and put McCain in a position to win a substantial victory in tomorrow's primary."
  • McCain Legacy Tarnished?  The New York Times' Marc Lacey writes, "The question now is whether Mr. McCain's sharp shift to the right during the campaign -- the onetime maverick declared at one point that he no longer wanted anything to do with that label -- will ultimately come back to haunt him and perhaps tarnish his legacy as a pragmatist willing to reach across the aisle."
  • Outcome Could Still Show Conservative Skepticism  Politico's Charles Mahtesian writes, "There's little chance McCain will lose his seat in either the primary or general election, but if Arizona voters don't hand him a double-digit win over Hayworth, it'll be a sign of just how deep conservative reservations about McCain still run. "
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.