[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/12/art.getty.specter.reporters.jpg caption="Two new polls indicate that Sen. Arlen Specter is facing a virtual tie with his primary opponent."]Washington (CNN) – With Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary less than a week away, the contest between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak is now a statistical dead heat, according to separate polls released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University and Franklin and Marshall College.
Specter, who is seeking a sixth term, left the GOP last year in part to increase his re-election prospects. But the former Republican is now facing a stiff primary challenge Sestak, a former Navy admiral who has sought to portray Specter as unreliable vote Democratic vote in the Senate.
Sestak trails Specter by two points among likely Democratic primary voters, according to the Quinnipiac University survey. Forty-four percent say they will vote for Specter, while 42 percent are backing Sestak. Another 14 percent are undecided. Specter's two-point lead is down from a 21-point advantage in a Quinnipiac poll released April 7.
"Sen. Arlen Specter has a history of winning close elections and he'll need that to continue because his once commanding lead is gone. His margin over Sestak is too close to call," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The Franklin and Marshall College survey also indicates the race has narrowed to within the margin of error, with Sestak leading among likely Democratic primary voters by a margin of two percentage points - 38 percent for Sestak to Specter's 36 percent. About one in four likely voters are undecided.
The Franklin and Marshall College poll surveyed 1023 Pennsylvanians by telephone May 3 – May 9. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The Quinnipiac University survey of 945 likely voters was conducted May 5 – May 10. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points and was conducted by telephone.