by Jim Nintzel
With Election Day less than a week away, Politico puts the Congressional District 2 race between Democratic incumbent Congressman Ron Barber and GOP challenger Martha McSally at the top of its list of the "five most suspenseful House races in the 2014 homestretch":
For most of the year, Barber has maintained a steady lead over McSally, successfully portraying himself as a moderate figure in a swing district. McSally has waged what’s been widely seen as a lackluster campaign, spending more time talking about her personal history than her policy positions.
But operatives from both sides believe McSally is closing the gap thanks to an infusion of cash from Republican groups who view her as a rising star and future party leader. Over the last month, Republicans have outspent Democrats on the TV airwaves $1.75 million to $1.25 million.
Worth keeping on eye on: What role former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Barber’s former boss, plays in the final week of the contest. The former congresswoman, who along with Barber survived the Jan. 2011 Tucson massacre, has been airing TV commercials voicing her support for Barber, who succeeded her in Congress.
Meanwhile, a GOP-leaning polling outfit we're not familiar with, Red Racing Horses, has released a poll in the race that shows Barber with a 2 percentage-point lead:
A week before the competitive general election in Arizona’s 2nd congressional district, a Red Racing Horses (RRH) survey has found Rep. Ron Barber (D) with an extremely slight edge over his challenger, Martha McSally (R). Barber leads McSally just 48-46 among likely voters, and the two are tied in the votes already cast. The last few days of the race are likely to see a significant scramble for the votes of the small undecided population. With a significant gender gap, McSally may be well-served to try and close her deficit by connecting with Female voters, among whom she trails by 9 points. The survey found a closely-divided and polarized district, with the presidential vote similar to the actual result in 2012 and both McSally and Barber taking large majorities of their partisans. Thus, an equally valid strategy to trying to win swing votes may be attempting to boost base turnout. McSally especially could benefit from this method, as this survey found an electorate marginally more Democratic than 2012. If McSally were able to energize some less-enthusiastic Romney voters, it could easily allow her to close the deficit. Geographically, McSally leads in the suburban and rural portions of the district, while Barber carries the city of Tucson. McSally posts a strong margin in the Tucson suburbs, turning the swingy region into a solid base area. Her margin in conservative Cochise and outer Pima, however, is unimpressive relative to the strong Republican leanings of the area. This geographic disparity suggests McSally may need to work harder to turn out conservative voters in the rural and exurban areas. In conclusion, while Barber has the slightest of edges, this race is still very much up for grabs in the last 9 days of the election.
If this year is following previous Southern Arizona trends, Barber is in the lead but the race is tightening as Election Day approaches.