You can put Pennsylvania Senate back in the toss up category. Joe Sestak leads Pat Toomey 46-45 in our newest poll of the race, erasing the 9 point deficit he had in an August PPP survey.
Toomey's support has remained stagnant over the last 2 months while Sestak's has gone up 10 points from 36% to 46%. There are three main factors driving the increased competitiveness of the race:
-Democratic voters are getting more engaged as election day moves closer. Barack Obama won Pennsylvania by 10 points in 2008 but our August survey in the state found those planning to vote in November had actually supported John McCain by a point in 2008, suggesting a massive drop off in Democratic turnout. Now those saying they will vote next month supported Obama by 4 points in 2008. The enthusiasm gap is still there but it's not as severe a problem for Democrats as it was 2 months ago.
-Sestak has wiped out what was an enormous deficit with independents. In August Toomey led 50-27 with them. He hasn't really lost any support with them but Sestak has picked up most of the undecided ones and now trails only 49-48 with that voter group. Most Democratic candidates across the country are down double digits with independents so for Sestak to be running even with them is a good sign for him.
-The Democratic base is unifying more around Sestak. In August there was a considerable party unity gap in this race with Toomey winning 74% of Republicans while Sestak was getting only 64% of Democrats. Toomey is still benefiting from greater unity with his party's voters, getting 82% of Republicans, but Sestak is up to 77% of Democrats. While it persists that unity gap is half the size of what it was in August.
One of the more impressive things about Sestak's resurrection is that it comes even as Barack Obama remains very unpopular in the state. 51% of voters disapprove of the job he's doing while only 43% give him good marks. If there is some bad news for Sestak in this poll it's that the remaining undecideds are not very happy with the President- if they ended up voting in the Senate race based on their feelings about Obama it would turn Toomey's 1 point deficit into a 1 point lead.
It looks like this race will be a lot more interesting in the final two weeks than anyone would have expected over the last few months.
Full results here