The Skinny

Trouble with The Base

New survey shows that Sen. John McCain isn't all that popular with many GOP voters

Sen. John McCain's support around Arizona is pretty weak for a guy who has been in office for more than three decades.

Nearly half of all Republican primary voters—47 percent—say they have yet to decide whom they'll vote for in next year's GOP primary, according to a Rocky Mountain poll released last week.

McCain is benefitting from not having a particularly strong GOP challenger. Of the Republican voters surveyed, 38 percent said they'd be voting for McCain, while only 12 percent say they're voting for his best-organized GOP challenger, state lawmaker Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu City.

But the number of undecided voters again demonstrates what has been obvious for years: A sizable number of Arizona Republicans aren't real excited about Arizona's senior senator.

This isn't terribly surprising. Republicans in general have steadily encouraged their voters to distrust government and politicians, so now you have a situation where Donald Trump and Ben Carson continue to dominate the GOP presidential primaries and establishment politicians like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are lucky to draw double digits in most surveys.

The survey also matched McCain against Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, who is giving up her seat in Congress to run for Senate next year.

A total of 37 percent of voters supported McCain, 31 percent supported Kirkpatrick and 32 percent were undecided.

The Rocky Mountain Poll surveyed 577 registered voters between Oct. 24 and Nov. 4. The margin of error is 4.2 percent (and 6.7 percent for the portion that reflected the GOP primary).

Desperate Measures

U.S. House votes to create new barriers for Syrian refugees

And they say that Congress can't get anything done.

Just one week after the terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 289-137 to put new hurdles in the path of Syrian refugees who are seeking to escape the horrifying conditions in their war-torn homeland. The legislation now goes to the U.S. Senate, where Democratic leaders have said they will block it from getting a vote.

Whether Syrian refugees pose much of a threat to American lives is up for debate. Writing for the right-leaning libertarian Cato Institute, Alex Nowrasteh notes that the process of getting into the United States as a Syrian refugee takes several years and multiple levels of scrutiny.

"Few ISIS soldiers or other terrorists are going to spend at least three years in a refugee camp for a 0.042 percent chance of entering the United States when almost any other option to do so is easier, cheaper, and quicker," Nowrasteh wrote. "If the United States still takes in 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, and the number of refugees rises to 4.5 million, a mere 0.22 percent of them—one out of every 450—will be resettled in the United States. That number is still so small and the process so well monitored that potential terrorists are unlikely to see the refugee system as a viable way to enter the United States." 

While they may not pose a great threat to American lives, they may pose a threat to political careers, which may explain why 47 Democrats joined with all but two Republican House members to pass the legislation last week.

Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally voted in favor of the legislation.

"ISIS has made clear their intentions to pose as innocent victims to get into the U.S.," McSally told the Weekly. "Our top security officials have said that gaps exist in the process to vet those fleeing conflict in Iraq and Syria. The bill that passed the House last week with a heavily bipartisan, two-thirds majority will not stop the vetting process, but simply requires those security officials to certify someone does not pose a threat before being admitted."

McSally added that last week's vote "is just one step. I recently served on a Bipartisan Task Force focused on combating foreign fighter and terrorist travel. Our final report released in September made over 50 recommendations to better protect Americans from the threat of foreign fighter travel and homegrown radicalism. These are vulnerabilities that also must be urgently addressed, and I'll continue to work to do that."

Southern Arizona Democrats were not among those who crossed party lines to support the legislation (although Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix did vote in favor of it). Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who is giving up her seat in Congress to run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican John McCain, said the legislation "presents a false choice and it betrays the core values of the United States of America." Kirkpatrick said the legislation targets "families reeling from mass murder, teenage girls escaping sexual slavery, toddlers sleeping in dirty, dangerous encampments." The political discourse—and now legislation—targeting these refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks is truly beneath us.

Kirkpatrick added that the Obama administration "must do much more to destroy ISIS" but "we must not succumb to fear or paranoia. And we must welcome these 'huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.' This is who we are."

Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva decried the legislation in a joint statement with his Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison.

"This bill diverts resources from where they are really needed by creating an excessive review process that would add years to the resettlement process and prevent thousands of people from getting the protection they need," Grijalva said. "Our Syrian refugee vetting process is already the most comprehensive in the world, and these changes would stretch the federal government's limited resources. Closing our doors to Syrian refugees fleeing violence and persecution isn't just morally wrong; it threatens our national security by fueling the extremist narrative that the West is at war with Islam."

Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel is taking a Thanksgiving holiday. It will return on Sunday, Dec. 6.