A new Rasmussen Reports poll of Republican voters in Arizona released today found that in hypothetical match ups against Hillary Clinton, Fred Thompson does better than both current GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, and home state candidate John McCain. Thompson leads Clinton 51%-34%. Giuliani leads Clinton by eleven points, 49%-38%, but the biggest surprise of all is that McCain only leads Clinton by 10 points, 46%-36%. Romney is the weakest of the top four GOP candidates, but even he leads Clinton, 46%-39%.

McCain’s support of President Bush’s immigration plan appears to have cost him dearly among his own constituents. Seventy percent of Arizonians found improving border enforcement and reducing illegal immigration to be very important to them. Only 20% of those asked agreed with McCain that legalizing illegal immigrants is an important issue. Eighty two percent of Arizona voters believe that employers should be forced to fire illegal aliens, and 68% believe that people looking for an apartment should have to show proof of their legal residency in the United States.

As far as approval ratings in the state are concerned, Thompson and Giuliani lead with 58% and 57% approval respectively. Romney and McCain are next at 49% and 48%, while Hillary Clinton is the least popular of all with a 41% approval rating. What I read into these numbers, beyond the importance of the immigration issue, is that Hillary Clinton is going to have a difficult time swinging any of the solid red states like Arizona into the Democratic column in 2008. However, Arizona is the type of state that is tailor made for Fred Thompson.

The overarching message here is that the McCain campaign is probably cooked. If he can’t count on the support of the voters who know him best, then he can’t convince the rest of the country to support him either. States in the South and West should be a Thompson stronghold, but it is unclear right now whether these states will be enough to win him the Republican nomination.

Related Rasmussen article

Jason Easley is the politics editor at www.411mania.com/politics His column The Political Universe runs on the site every Tuesday and Friday.


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