“Grassroots Antipathy” Keeps McCain’s Margin of Victory Slightly Below Two-to-One

Senator John McCain, an elderly white Republican who ran against Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, won handily in the Arizona primary for his Senate seat yesterday. The result was seen as a setback to the Tea Party, a political movement of elderly white Republican voters who oppose the Obama Administration .

Politico reports on this development:

McCain, who led in every county in the state, held a 57 percent to 32 percent advantage with 82 percent of precincts reporting. Little-known conservative Jim Deakin, who was criticized by McCain opponents as a spoiler who would split the vote against the senator, pulled in 12 percent of the vote.

Despite a spirited bid by [J.D.] Hayworth, who cultivated support from — and staffed his campaign with — tea party activists, McCain’s $21 million blitzkrieg ultimately rendered him an unacceptable alternative, despite widespread antipathy toward McCain among many grass-roots conservatives.

By capturing the angry, anti-establishment Zeitgeist, Hayworth was able to finish 25 points behind McCain among Republican primary voters—or, if you look at the results the other way around, only 20 points ahead of some random crank who had no chance at all of winning.