According to a new poll from a friendly super PAC, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber holds an early lead in his rematch against former Air Force pilot Martha McSally, a Republican, despite a Koch-funded ad campaign against him and McSally's familiarity in the district after her 2012 race against Barber.
Barber leads McSally 45 percent to 37 percent in the poll from Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC, with 18 percent of respondents undecided. The Democratic polling firm Normington Petts surveyed 400 likely voters from June 8-10, with a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
The poll indicates a close race in a tightly divided district, and 45 percent is often considered a treacherous line for incumbent officeholders in polling. But the survey also provides evidence that Barber -- one of House Democrats' most endangered incumbents in 2014 -- has thus far withstood an early ad campaign by groups like the LIBRE Initiative and Americans for Prosperity, two nonprofits with ties to the Koch brothers that have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in southeast Arizona.
Barber is one of Republicans' top targets this cycle after beating McSally by less than 1 percentage point in 2012. Thanks to that race, Barber has only a minor name-identification advantage. The poll found that 92 percent of respondents were familiar with Barber, while 76 percent were familiar with McSally. That number will start going up soon: McSally's campaign will begin airing television ads touting her military experience and plans for the district during the World Cup