(Updated with reaction to the poll from Kirkpatrick's campaign)
(Also updated with poll question from the NRCC)
The candidates in Arizona's First Congressional District meet in Marana for a debate at 6 p.m. today, the same day the first polling in the general election has been released to the public.
The National Republican Congressional Committee said today its poll of the district's voters shows Republican Jonathan Paton leading Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick 50 percent to 45 percent, with five percent of the respondents undecided.
Kirkpatrick is from Flagstaff, Paton lives in Marana, and Libertarian Kim Allen of Arizona City is also on the ballot.
The automated telephone poll of 501 respondents had a margin of error of 4.3 percent and was skewed more Democratic and less independent than voter registration in the district.
Respondents broke down this way: 44 percent Democrats, 32 percent Republicans, 23 percent independents, 1 percent other. As of August, the district's registered voters broke down as 39 percent Democrats, 31 percent Republicans and 30 percent independents.
"This is a useless partisan push poll," Kirkpatrick spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said in an email. "We challenge Paton and the NRCC to release the full questionnaire and crosstabs."
The vast district covers 55,000 square miles, stretching from Marana and Oro Valley in the southwest, to the New Mexico border in the east, covering Casa Grande, the Navajo and Apache reservations, Flagstaff and Sedona.
Tuesday morning, NRCC spokesman Daniel Scarpinato sent me an email containing what he said were the questions asked in the survey:
How likely are you to vote in the upcoming presidential election?
- Very likely to vote
- Somewhat likely to vote
- Somewhat unlikely to vote
- Very unlikely to vote
Do you plan to vote early, either by mail or in-person, or will you be voting on election day?
- Vote early
- Vote on election day
If the election for President were held today, would you vote for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama?
- Barack Obama
- Mitt Romney
If the election for Congress were held today, would you rather vote for a Republican or a Democrat?
If the election for Congress were held today, would you vote for Republican Jonathan Paton (Pay-ton) or Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick?
- Republican Jonathan Paton (Pay-ton)
- Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick
With which political party are you registered to vote?
-Any other party
What is your age?
- 18 to 29
- 30 to 44
- 45 to 64
- 65 or older
Are you male or female?