WASHINGTON — A third poll this week offered a third drastically different view on Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday found Republican Sen. Pat Toomey leading Democrat Katie McGinty by 8 percentage points in a critical contest that could help determine control of the Senate.

It came a day after a Monmouth University poll found the race tied and a Franklin & Marshall College poll had McGinty leading by six.

While the polls leave a muddled picture, political operatives working on the contest nearly uniformly predict a tight race likely to remain close through Election Day. Most public polls have found narrow margins between Toomey and McGinty.

Quinnipiac had better news for the Republican. It found 50 percent of likely voters supporting Toomey, with 42 percent backing McGinty. That's a 7-point bump for Toomey since Quinnipiac's last survey, in early September.

The poll suggests that McGinty, Gov. Wolf's former chief-of-staff, is struggling to win over women, despite her bid to become Pennsylvania's first female senator. Toomey leads with women, 45-44, Quinnipiac found.

Other polls, by contrast, have found sizable leads for McGinty among women and a closer race overall. The McGinty campaign quickly criticized the latest poll as "a clear outlier."

Quinnipiac surveyed 535 Pennsylvania likely voters from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2. The poll has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.

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