Today in 'Be Careful What You Wish For': McCain's Message Is Heard

John McCain insisted to us that he is not a maverick, and never claimed to be one. Being in a tough primary fight in his conservative home state of Arizona, McCain wanted to be sure that his constituents back home get the message that he is a loyal Republican, uninterested in working with Democrats to solve the nation's problems that he once professed to care about, such as immigration and climate change.

Well, the message has been received. Via Greg Sargent:

A fascinating finding buried in Public Policy Polling's new poll of Arizona voters suggests that John McCain's efforts to ditch the maverick label have paid off handily:

Would you describe John McCain more as an independent voice for Arizona or a partisan voice for national Republicans?

Partisan voice for national Republicans 55%

Independent voice for Arizona 28%

... But, tellingly, the poll's internals show that an astonishing 54% of Arizona Republicans still view him as too lenient on immigration.This perfectly captures the tragicomic nature of McCain's dilemma: His lurch to the right in has completely dispelled the aura of mavericky independence that he was proud of, and worked to cultivate, for so long. But this still isn't good enough for the GOP primary electorate, which isn't willing to overlook his previous softness on immigration.

Back in the early Bush years it used to drive some liberals nuts that McCain got away with being a fairly conservative Republican and yet, thanks to his occasional high-profile moderation on a certain issue, such as campaign-finance reform, was heralded by the media, and viewed by the public, as a principled moderate. He got to have it both ways, but now it seems as if McCain may have managed to have neither.

This also reflects the intensity of the rightward shift in the Republican base. Six years ago McCain was seen as untouchable in a primary challenge, or even the general election, despite his apostasies. It was precisely because of his national stature that he had the enduring loyalty of Arizonans even when they disagreed with him. Now, any history of efforts to build consensus—from McCain's work on immigration reform to Sen. Bob Bennett's sponsorship of a defunct health-reform bill in Utah—makes you vulnerable to a challenge from the right, no matter how conservative you are overall.

Today in 'Be Careful What You Wish For': McCain's Message Is Heard | News