(CNN) - Hours after the first debate in this year's Senate battle in Pennsylvania, two new polls indicate the race is deadlocked.
According to a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday, 48 percent of likely voters in the Keystone State say they are backing former Rep. Pat Toomey, the Republican Senate nominee, with 46 percent supporting Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democrats' nominee. Five percent are undecided. Toomey's two point margin is within the poll's sampling error. The 2 point spread is also down from a 7 point advantage in a Quinnipiac survey from late September.
A Muhlenberg College/Allentown Morning call tracking poll also out Thursday indicates the race all tied up at 43 percent each. In Muhlenberg's previous survey, conducted two weeks ago, Toomey led 46 to 39 percent. Most other recent polls also indicated Toomey with a single digit lead.
Earlier this year Sestak, a former admiral and two-term congressman from southeast Pennsylvania, came from behind in the polls to defeat Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter for their party's nomination. When Specter switched parties last year, he cited the difficulty in winning the Republican primary against Toomey as a factor. Besides his service in Congress, Toomey is also the former head of the Club for Growth, a limited-government and anti-tax organization, and he enjoys the support of many in the Tea Party movement.
In Wednesday night's debate, both candidates characterized their opponent as "extreme" on the issues. Both new polls were conducted before the debate.
Both parties are concentrating a lot of firepower on Pennsylvania. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent more than $4 million on ads in the state since mid August. When all is said and done, the DSCC's counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is expected to spend roughly $5.5 million in Pennsylvania in support of Toomey, according to a GOP source.
"It's only natural that as Election Day draws closer, polls will tighten, and particularly in a state like Pennsylvania where Democrats enjoy a sizeable voter registration advantage. But that makes it even more notable that Pat Toomey continues to lead and as the early absentee ballot numbers make clear, the enthusiasm level among his supporters is off the charts. He is going to win on November 2nd," NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh tells CNN.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, Democrats are overwhelmingly backing Sestak while Republicans are equally supporting Toomey, with the GOP nominee holding a 21 point advantage among independent voters.
"Pennsylvania is a blue state and Democrats there have begun to come home," says Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "They are more engaged than they were earlier in the race. This is not unusual, especially in off-year elections. Democrats often engage later in the campaign than do Republicans. The political environment is more favorable now for them, as evidenced by President Barack Obama's improved, but still decidedly negative, job approval rating."
The Muhlenberg College poll was conducted October 10-17, with approximately 400 likely voters in Pennsylvania questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error or likely voters is plus or minus 5 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted October 13-17, with 1,046 Pennsylvania likely voters questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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