Democrat Ron Barber is heading into today's special election in Arizona to replace Gabrielle Giffords with a healthy lead, according to Public Policy Polling. The Democratic-leaning pollsters say that Barber, a senior Giffords aide who was critically injured in the mass shooting last year that killed six people and left Giffords with a gunshot wound to the head, is leading Iraq vet Jesse Kelly 53% to 41%, reports the Washington Post.
Democratic insiders, however, say their own polling has shown a much tighter race. Barber, who has distanced himself from President Obama for much of the race, told CNN last night that he plans to vote for Obama in November "because quite clearly his policies will benefit the middle class much more than his opponent." Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, says today's vote will bring closure to her career. Whoever wins may not have much time to make his mark on the House: The victor will serve the rest of Giffords' term but will be up for re-election in November.