Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, declares: "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."
Before we go any further, here's Jay Cost's helpful advice about polls from this morning: "remember to always be an informed consumer of polls! Bookmark the 2008 (a great Democratic year), 2006 (a good Democratic year), and 2004 (a slightly good Republican year) exit poll sites -- and before you accept any poll, cross-reference what it predicts the electorate will be with what it was in those past years. This is so important this year because I think polls are increasingly being used to move public opinion rather than to inform us about it."
In 2004, the partisan breakdown in Pennsylvania was 41% Democrat, 39% Republican, 20% independent.
In 2006, it was 43% Democrat, 38% Republican, 19% independent.
In 2008, it was 44% Democrat, 37% Republican, 18% independent.
And what does PPP predict the partisan makeup of the electorate will be in 2010? 48% Democrat (!), 41% Republican, 11% independent. Color me skeptical that Pennsylvania Democrats will hold a 48% to 41% edge over Republicans in 2010.
The RCP average of polls, which includes the new PPP poll, shows Toomey with a 6.3% lead over Sestak.
Update: PPP's Tom Jensen tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
“We don’t find it particularly helpful to compare the party ID from our preelection polls to the exit polls from previous years. The ways in which those polls are administered is so different that they’re not really apples to apples. For instance, our last Pennsylvania poll in 2008 found a D+9 electorate when the exit poll said D+7. We actually only had Obama winning by 8 but he ended up winning by 10. So if it’s apples to apples for us … we really should have had a D+11 [in 2008], given that Obama won by 10. So what we find more instructive is … we ask people to self-report how they voted for president in 2008 in all of our polls. So the self-report of that for the [new] Pennsylvania poll was Obama +4, when he actually won the state by 10. So that does show a pretty significant enthusiasm gap.”