Sen. John McCain has been steadfast in his refusal to consider any nominee that President Barack Obama puts forward for the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of Antonin Scalia.
“The president can nominate who he wants to,” McCain said last month during an appearance on a Phoenix radio show.
“I believe we should wait until after the next election and let the American people pick the next president and we should consider who the next president of the United States nominates.”
But a recent survey of Arizona voters suggests that McCain’s stance will be very unpopular with Democratic and independent voters, even though Republican voters agree with him.
The Public Policy Polling survey
showed that 56 percent of Arizona voters want to see the Supreme Court seat filled this year, while 41 percent want to wait until a new president is seated next year.
But the poll showed a dramatic split between Republicans, who generally supported McCain’s position, and Democrats and Independents, who did not. Nearly two out of three Republicans—64 percent—agreed with McCain, while just 31 percent disagree. But 83 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents said the seat should be filled this year.
The split between the parties shows that McCain is playing to the base with his opposition to considering a nominee. And the survey also shows that McCain needs to play to the base: Among Republicans, his approval numbers in the PPP survey were extraordinarily low: Just 33 percent of Republicans approved of the job he’s doing.
McCain is facing former state lawmaker Kelli Ward
, Alex Meluskey and Clair Van Steenwyk in the August GOP primary this year. Provided he survives that race, he’ll face Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who is giving up her Congressional District 1 seat, in the November general election.
Whether the Supreme Court controversy will have much impact on the race remains to be seen. Republicans nationwide are gambling that voters will not make their decision based on their refusal to fill the seat, which is a pretty good bet, as elections rarely turn on process issues. But the PPP survey suggests that it may have an impact on the decision-making process: 55 percent of those surveyed said McCain's obstructionism would make them less likely to support McCain, while 24 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference and 21 percent said it would make them more likely to support McCain.
But McCain may have bigger problems than reaction to the court vacancy. His lousy approval numbers stretch across the political spectrum. In addition to his low marks among Republicans, only 17 percent of Democrats and 25 percent of independents approved of McCain’s job performance.
Add it all up, and only 26 percent of those surveyed approved of McCain’s job performance, while 63 percent disapprove.
In short, McCain is a remarkably unpopular politician.
Team McCain spokeswoman Lorna Romero dismissed the survey as illegitimate.
“This fake ‘poll’ from liberal activists is the creation of partisan Democrat hacks who have tried and failed for years to defeat John McCain,” Romero said via email.
Public Policy Polling Executive Director Tom Jensen said his survey was in line with others regarding both support for filling the Supreme Court vacancy and McCain’s troubled approval rating.
“Fox News, not exactly a liberal activist group, national polling has found overwhelming support for filling the Supreme Court seat, just as we did at the state level on this Arizona poll,” Jensen told The Range. “Multiple pollsters have found McCain to be among the least popular Senators in the country and it's not surprising this issue is just exacerbating that.”
The PPP survey interviewed 533 Arizona voters on March 1-2. The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percent.