The article basically points out that Florida is a true test of pure Republicans for McCain. He's won so far with the help of independents and even Democrats. But the Florida primary is closed only to Republicans. How he does there is very important.
But John McCain has been in presidential politics long enough to know that there is always the McCain exception to every rule. After he decisively beat former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in neighboring New Hampshire, McCain's low-budget campaign expected a windfall of fresh donations to help propel it forward. But the haul was disappointing; donors still weren't ready to buy in to a candidate they view as too much of a risk. The towering obstacle between McCain and victory is not so much his rivals for the nomination but the suspicion long held by many Republicans, especially rock-ribbed conservatives, that the Senator and former war hero is too much the maverick on issues that matter deeply to them to be trusted to occupy the White House.
Conservative fears about McCain are often irrational: through a 25-year career in Congress, first in the House and then in the Senate, McCain has proved himself consistently pro-life on abortion and a hawk on defense, a scourge of wasteful government spending and a generally reliable vote in favor of tax cuts. Yet at last year's Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of party power brokers, McCain was booed.
Why was he booed? Here is why (but then, I don't have to tell you guys this)
But it is also true that conservatives have a lengthy bill of complaint against McCain. In the past decade he has joined with Democrats on a series of crusades in Congress — with Russ Feingold on campaign-finance reform and Ted Kennedy on immigration reform — that a majority of Republicans have opposed. He voted against President Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and '03, each time citing the need for fiscal restraint. And during his 2000 campaign, he labeled Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance."
So why does he get the votes?
Still, McCain's appeal tends to transcend his positions on the issues — when it doesn't contradict them entirely. He is the candidate most associated with supporting the President's war in Iraq, yet he is the hands-down choice so far of antiwar and anti-Bush voters in his party's primaries. He has accrued a far more conservative record in political office than Rudy Giuliani, Romney or, in many cases, Mike Huckabee, but he is, as he was in 2000, the favorite of independents and Democrats who choose to vote in GOP primaries.
McCain has his flaws," says Ken Duberstein, a former chief of staff to Ronald Reagan, "but everyone is starting to recognize that he's the most electable Republican out there."