By Joe Ferguson
A new poll has U.S. Rep. Ron Barber with an early lead over his likely Republican opponent retired Air Force Col.Martha McSally in the Congressional District 2 race.
The survey of 400 likely voters, paid for by the House Majority PAC, which works to get Democrats elected to the House, has Barber ahead with 45 percent of the vote, compared to 37 percent backing McSally.
Matt Thornton, communications director for the PAC, said the poll in the hotly-contested district shows Barber has the edge despite attack ads financed by the Tucson Democrat’s political enemies.
“As you can see, Barber has survived the Koch brothers-backed LIBRE attacks and is in a strong position,” Thornton said.
The poll also hinted that only a third of respondents gave McSally a favorable rating, compared to nearly half who thought Barber was doing a good job.
The remaining 18 percent of those surveyed by the Democratic polling group Normington, Petts & Associates were undecided. The margin of error for the poll was 4.9 percent. Thornton, unable to provide an exact breakdown of the party registration for the poll, said it was an accurate representation of the CD2 electorate.
Northern Arizona University political science professor and pollster Fred Solop said the high margin of error, coupled with the number of undecided voters, shows the election is far from settled.
He said the Barber camp should be worried, noting less that 50 percent of the respondents are backing him for a second term.
“This doesn’t suggest Barber has it in the bag,” Solop said.
Solop also noted that the super PAC is not releasing a similar poll for U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, despite running ads in the Phoenix Valley and Northern Arizona touting her record.
He doubts the group hasn’t done polling on the Congressional District 1 race, but said it isn’t unusual for outside groups to selectively release information.
McSally campaign manager Weston McKee said the poll had little value, noting the firm only released partial numbers and was hired by a group that has run television ads supporting Barber.
“It’s no surprise that Ron Barber is relying on Nancy Pelosi and her liberal Washington allies to mislead voters in Arizona. Without releasing their methodology, these numbers are meaningless,” McKee said. “How can we trust Ron Barber’s personal hit group, which has already dropped $350,000 in attack-ads in a seat they are desperate to hold onto?”
A poll released earlier this year by the McSally team gave the Republican candidate a slight lead on Barber — 45 percent to 42 percent. That poll also had a margin of error of nearly 5 percent.
From The Arizona Daily Star on June 16, 2014.