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Pennsylvania Senate race moves to "Lean Republican"

Former Rep. Pat Toomey is now favored in the Pennsylvania Senate race. AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A Quinnipiac University poll released this morning tells you everything you need to know about the Pennsylvania Senate race between former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D).

Toomey leads 50 percent to 43 percent in the head to head matchup but it's what is in the internals of the poll that should be even more troubling for Democrats.

Just 40 percent of Pennsylvania voters approve of the job the President is doing while 56 percent disapprove, a striking turnaround in a state that he carried by 10 points in 2008. The news is even worse among electorally critical independents; where just 37 percent approved as compared to 59 percent who disapproved.

Democrats have insisted for several weeks that the race is closing -- thanks to an onslaught of television ads from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee totaling several million dollars -- but the Quinnipiac survey suggests that Sestak isn't closing the gap all that fast. (The Real Clear Politics average of polls conducted in the race of late gives Toomey a 7.8 percent lead.)

While the Democratic party registration edge in the state -- thanks to a contested Democratic presidential primary between Obama and then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in early 2008 and then a contested general election fight -- is wide (1.2 million, to be exact), it's getting harder and harder to see how Sestak overcomes a Toomey's lead in a very difficult political environment for Democrats.

Given the steadiness of Toomey's lead and the unpopularity of President Obama in the Keystone State -- not to mention Republicans running very strong in the governor's race -- we are moving the Pennsylvania Senate race from "Toss Up" to "Lean Republican".

By Chris Cillizza  | September 22, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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