SAN DIEGO -
A 10News scientific poll conducted by SurveyUSA found that the race for the 52nd Congressional District is tied between Republican Brian Bilbray and Democrat Scott Peters.
The poll found that if the Nov. 6 elections were held Wednesday, 46 percent would vote for Bilbray and 46 percent would vote for Peters. The remaining 8 percent would be undecided.
The survey had a 4 percent margin of error.
"It's just unusual to have a congressional race this hotly contested," said political analyst Carl Luna, Ph.D.
The poll showed Peters leading among younger voters and Bilbray among older voters. Meanwhile, voters in other groups including men, women, those with middle and upper-incomes and those who have and haven't already voted were split.
"Brian Bilbray has an advantage. Republicans and the elderly vote more," said Luna.
Voters favored Peters at 38 percent to Bilbray at 36 percent on the issue of who would do more to protect Medicare. Both candidates have highlighted the program during their campaigns and on their television ads.
But Bilbray was ahead of Peters when it comes to who would bring more jobs to the district with 40 percent of voters compared to 30 percent for his opponent.
The race is so hotly contested that super PACs have lobbed more than $4 million into ads, with most of them being negative ads.
"I think a lot of people are on ad overload, and whenever an ad comes on it's time to go take a little restroom break," Luna said.
One recent ad is stirring reaction. In the last week, a pro-Bilbray ad featuring his daughter, Briana, debuted. In it, she reveals she has terminal cancer but says that while her father's legislative work in support of cancer research might not be able to save her, it could save someone else.
"You may get some complaints about exploitation out of it, but I think the message of the ad overwhelms the negativity," said Luna, who calls it "a legitimate ad."
Though Bilbray did slightly better, the poll shows roughly one-third of voters had favorable opinions of each, one-third had unfavorable opinions and about one-third were neutral or had no opinion.
"Brian Bilbray's problem is he's a congressman; we don't like congressman. Scott Peters problem is he was a councilman when the city was almost going bankrupt," said Luna. "In many ways, this is coming down to the guy you dislike the least."
Not exactly what most voters are looking for.
"Politics in America, you don't always get the candidate you want, you've got to dance with the candidates that are there," said Luna.
Robert Dempsey, Peters' campaign manager, issued this statement in response to the poll:
"We knew from the beginning that this election would be close. So did our supporters. That's why so many San Diegans, from every political stripe, have come out in support of Scott's campaign to change Congress. We've been busy knocking on doors and making phone calls. So far, the response has been very positive and we intend to keep it up until polls close on Election Day."
Bilbray spokesman Patrick Howell issued the following statement:
"We always knew that this was going to be a close election since Scott Peters is a self funded candidate who is trying to buy this election. Congressman Bilbray has focused his campaign on creating high-paying renewable energy jobs, reducing harmful regulations, fighting for cancer research and promoting pro-growth economic policies that will jump-start our economy. This election will be won by the candidate that will foster an economic environment that gets San Diegans back to work and creates high-paying middle class jobs. Brian Bilbray is that candidate."
The poll is the result of phone interviews with 700 registered voters in the district. Of that group, 628 voters said they have either already returned a ballot or were likely to do so on or before Election Day.