Mark Blumenthal | August 24, 2010
Topics: 2010 , Arizona , J.D. Hayworth , John McCain , Primary elections
If nothing else, I have to give arch-conservative, former Congressman J.D. Hayworth credit for doggedly insisting, despite all available evidence, that he is "poised to pull one of the greatest upsets in political history" in Tuesday's Arizona Senate primary. After all, the most recent automated Rasmussen poll showed him trailing Sen. John McCain by twenty points (54% to 34%), and every public poll conducted in this race has shown McCain leading, including eight fielded since March that had McCain ahead by margins of between 5 and 45 percentage points.
This morning, Hayworth even offered NBC's Chuck Todd a theory for why the polls might be wrong:
Here's the limitation of public opinion polls. They cannot accurately gauge the turnout. Conservatives are motivated to go cast a vote for me and retire John McCain. Also on the ballot, the governor's race on the Republican side is devoid of any suspense. Several candidates dropped out. Governor Brewer has a clear march back to the nomination [and] that will suppress the moderate turnout.
Well, maybe. We'll know the answer soon enough.
But whatever the outcome, Hayworth does have a point about one thing: Pollsters often have a hard time identifying true likely voters in low turnout primary elections. That's one reason why primary polls tend to produce bigger errors compared to the actual results than general election polls.
Also, the most recent survey in this race, the Rasmussen result I cited above, is now five weeks old. No other public polls have been conducted since July.
So as tempting as those Hayworth-as-Iraqi-Information-Minister jokes may be, we should probably hold off snickering until all the votes are counted.