Democrat U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Republican challenger Jesse Kelly are deadlocked in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, according to a poll commissioned by a DC-based advocacy group.
Conducted among 400 likely voters between Aug. 25 and 29, the poll showed Giffords and Kelly tied at 46 percent each.
The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, also showed that Kelly is more perceived as the candidate who would fight to keep taxes low and work to get government spending under control.
Eight percent of those who were surveyed were undecided, the poll said.
The poll also showed that 22 percent haven’t heard of Kelly while 99 percent have heard of Giffords.
Kelly’s campaign was quick to seize on the poll’s results to say it shows Giffords is “out-step” with the voters of the district. Campaign spokesman John Ellinwood said Kelly hasn’t even really targeted Giffords yet in terms of advertising because he was focused on the recently concluded primary race.
“And he’s even with her,” Ellinwood said.
“(She) is no longer working for the residents of her district. She is more interested in bailing out Wall Street than she is in bringing jobs to Arizona,” Kelly said in a news release.
But Anne Hilby, Giffords’ campaign spokeswoman, said when district voters get to know Kelly’s “extreme positions” on Medicare and Social Security, for example, the choice would be clear.
Giffords’ campaign recently called out Kelly on his position on Social Security, saying he is flip-flopping.
“Kelly’s answers on Social Security read like a multiple-choice exam: Privatize it, Phase it out, Eliminate it… and now… Protect it. If Jesse Kelly went to Congress, which would it be?” her campaign said.
Kelly replied that Giffords is playing from a “liberal attack manual” to scare seniors.
“Here is the truth: Jesse Kelly wants to protect Social Security for current retirees,” Kelly’s campaign said. “We will fully honor our commitments for those now receiving benefits. Those who have been paying into the system should also receive their full benefits.”
American Action Forum, the group that commissioned the poll, describes itself as a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public about complex policy choices and advocates for solutions grounded in “Center-right values.”
“I think that there is a clear bias in the organization that commissioned the poll,” Hilby said. “The board of directors for the group looks like highlights of George W. Bush’s Cabinet sprinkled with John McCain’s DC-consulting team.”
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the group’s president, is a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and was a policy adviser to McCain’s campaign. The group’s board members also include former Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
– Luige Del Puerto