Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey are tied in the Pennsylvania Senate race, representing a six point improvement for Sestak from when PPP last polled the race in late March and found Toomey ahead 42-36.
Sestak's progress has come largely by consolidating the Democratic vote in the wake of his surprising primary win. He's now getting 70% from within his own party, up from 59% on the previous poll. That's similar to the 73% share of the Republican vote Toomey is getting, suggesting that Sestak has been successful in getting the party unified around him in the last five weeks.
This race is a vintage example of where the enthusiasm gap is giving Democrats problems. Sestak is winning 74% of the vote from people who supported Barack Obama in 2008. That's actually a tad higher than the 73% Toomey is getting from McCain voters. This is not a race where the Democratic candidate is struggling because folks who voted for Obama last election are supporting the GOP in droves. But the poll's respondents went for John McCain by a point in 2008 when Barack Obama actually took the state by 10. The only reason Sestak's not ahead in this race is that Republican voters are much more motivated to go out and vote in the fall than Democrats are. If Democrats can close that gap, even a little bit, Sestak will have the advantage in the race.
Both Sestak and Toomey are relatively unknown at this point. 44% of voters don't know enough about Sestak to have formed an opinion of him one way or the other and the same is true for 42% when it comes to Toomey. Their favorability numbers are almost identical with the voters who do know them- 30% have a positive opinion of Toomey to 28% negative and 29% have a positive opinion of Sestak to 28% negative.
These results seem to make it clear that the controversy about Sestak and the White House is not hurting him and that the race is now a pure tossup. Democratic prospects are much brighter than they were when it still looked like Arlen Specter would be the nominee and this contest is likely to be one of the closest in the country right on through the fall.
Full results here