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Most GOP voters want McCain to step down by end of May, poll shows

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, during the committee's hearing with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart on worldwide threats. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

PHOENIX – A majority of Republicans think ailing U.S. Sen. John McCain should step down in time for Arizona voters to pick his replacement in November, according to the results of a survey released Thursday by Rasmussen Reports.

The telephone and online survey found that 62 percent of likely GOP voters thought McCain should leave office before May 30 so voters could choose his successor in the next general election.

If he leaves after that date, Gov. Doug Ducey would appoint an interim senator and a special election would be held in 2020.

Just 27 percent of Republicans said McCain shouldn’t step down before May 30, and 11 percent were undecided.

The 81-year-old senator has been away from Washington D.C. since December. He was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer last July.

The typical survival period after a glioblastoma diagnosis is 12 to 15 months, though a small percentage live longer than five years.

In an excerpt from his memoir, which was scheduled to be released next week, McCain wrote that this would be his last term in office, but he has made no indication he would step down.

He was elected to his sixth senate term in 2016 and has been in the chamber for 31 years.

The survey also asked respondents for their impression of McCain, the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, and whether the Republican Party should be more like the senator or President Donald Trump.

More than half of the Republicans surveyed (52 percent) had an unfavorable view of McCain, who has publicly opposed the president on several occasions, including on CIA nominee Gina Haspel and last year’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

An even larger portion (69 percent) of Republicans thought the party should be more like Trump, while 23 percent said the GOP should mirror McCain. A majority of Democrats (76 percent) and unaffiliated voters (53 percent) sided with McCain on the question.

The survey of 1,000 likely voters had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, with a 95 percent level of confidence.

It was conducted May 10 and 13, in the midst of a controversy about a White House staffer allegedly mocking McCain’s illness during an internal meeting last week.

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway,” special assistant Kelly Sadler reportedly said in response to McCain’s opposition to Haspel’s nomination.

The White House said Sadler was dealt with internally but didn’t apologize for the comment, even as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called on the administration to do so.

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