by Jim Nintzel
Congressional District 2 Republican candidate Martha McSally, who is widely favored to win next week's GOP primary, has released a poll showing that she trails Democratic Congressman Ron Barber by 5 percentage points in the November general election.
The survey of 400 likely general-election voters, conducted by OnMessage Inc. on Aug. 7-8, showed that Barber had the support of 50 percent of the voters, with 45 percent supporting McSally. The poll had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
McSally spokesman Bruce Harvie said that the campaign is “very excited” by the poll results.
A July poll released by Team Barber showed Barber with a 13-point lead over McSally in CD2.
From the analysis of the McSally poll by Wes Anderson of OnMessage Inc.:
The key to this race is found in the hard re-elect question for Barber. General Election voters are currently undecided on whether to send him back to Congress—40% say he deserves another term, while 41% say give someone else a chance.
Ticketsplitters are truly split on the ballot—38% say another term for Barber, while a full 36% say give someone else a chance.
Martha McSally's poll memo is far from a “full analysis.” It fails to provide a partisan breakdown of the sample, or results of other races, so it is difficult to tell if there is a bias. The memo misspells the name Gabrielle Giffords. Attention to detail is the cornerstone of accurate polling. This is the same campaign that approached our campaign before the special election with polling numbers saying we were trailing Jesse Kelly. They were clearly wrong then.
Martha McSally is once again trying to spin the voters of Southern Arizona. From misreporting fundraising numbers to misrepresenting the true impact that the Ryan plan would have on middle class families, this latest spin is part of a pattern of arguments that just don't add up.
Harvie said that OnMessage Inc. is “one of the most highly respected firms in the country and we stand behind the poll.”
UPDATED: Harvie called us after we posted to tell us that the voter-registration breakdown in the poll was 38 percent Republican and 37 percent Democratic, with the remainder made up of voters who were not with either party.
David Nir of Daily Kos also threw cold water on the poll:
Republican Martha McSally's new internal poll (from OnMessage) strikes me as nothing but awful news for her. If you just looked at the margin and saw that Dem Rep. Ron Barber leads her by five points, you might think she has a shot. The problem—and it's a serious one—is that Barber's at 50 and she's at 45. So even if this poll is accurate, how is she supposed to win with only 5% undecided and the incumbent already at 50? And if anything, these numbers are probably tilted toward here—there are no presidential toplines to offer a sanity check. The real tell will be whether the NRCC or other outside GOP groups spend here, but I suspect they can read a poll better than McSally can.
The question of whether the NRCC or other outside groups will play in CD2 is a vital one to McSally’s chances, which is one reason she wants to get some good news out about the campaign regarding this poll.
As I write in The Skinny in this week's print edition, hitting streets now:
More bad news for McSally came with the announcement that the National Republican Congressional Committee was reserving $900,000 worth of TV air time on behalf of Republican Jonathan Paton, a former state lawmaker who is seeking the Congressional District 1 seat that includes Oro Valley, Marana, Flagstaff and rural eastern Arizona.
That tells us that even though Paton has not yet even won his primary, the NRCC is flexing its muscle against Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, a former congresswoman who represented much of the area between 2008 and 2010. Whether they’ll do the same for McSally remains to be seen, but there’s going to be a lot of competition for those campaign dollars across the country, and the NRCC has not had much luck in Southern Arizona in recent years.