Casey's lead is fueled by his support among independent voters. Forty-five percent of independents chose Casey in the poll, while 36 percent chose Smith. Casey also has a significant edge among women, garnering 52 percent support compared to 37 percent for the Republican. Men are split evenly between the two candidates: 47 percent for Smith and 46 percent for Casey.
While Casey once held double-digit leads in most polls, Smith has cut into his edge by outspending the Democrat on television ads. The former coal mining executive has poured $17 million of his own money into the race, most of which has gone to an ad campaign portraying Casey as a liberal ally of Obama with few accomplishments in his first term in the Senate.
Casey has been criticized for overlooking the threat posed by his self-funding opponent, but his campaign has kicked into gear in recent weeks, increasing his public appearances and television presence. Majority PAC, a super PAC spending heavily to defend Democrats' majority in the Senate, came to the senator's aid this week, launching a television spot attacking Smith.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee late on Friday released results of its own internal poll
, showing with a 12-point lead.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
poll was conducted Oct. 23 through Oct. 25 by National Research Inc., a GOP polling firm, and Global Strategy Group, a Democratic outfit. The survey of 600 likely voters has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.