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The Good Democrat: Patty Murray Quietly Surging In WA-SEN

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The TPM Poll Average shows Murray ahead 49.9-46.6. That's close enough to be uncomfortable if you're an incumbent Democrat in the Year Of The Republican. But look at the trendlines -- Murray is slowly steaming ahead while Rossi appears to be dropping back:

The 9/12 Elway Poll (well-respected in Washington) shows Murray ahead by 9, leading 50-41. Pollster Stuart Elway told the Seattle Times that there's still room for Rossi to close the gap, but that the Republican will have to do some damage to Murray to make it work.

"Any way these data are sliced, victory for Dino Rossi requires that he take votes away from Murray," Elway told the paper. "And you thought this campaign has been hard hitting so far."

It has. Murray's already been hit in TV ads by the same firm that brought you "demon sheep." And Murray's thrown her punches too, running an ad calling Rossi -- who ran for governor twice before making his Senate run -- "best friends" with George W. Bush. (Not great company in a state that even Rasmussen shows is evenly split when it comes to support for President Obama.)

If Rossi wants to win the way Elway says he needs to, he'll need to start doing it quick. Recent polls show Murray with a 52% favorabilty rating and approval ratings that greatly outweigh her disapproval ratings. That's not a good sign for Rossi, who needs to start tearing Murray down if he wants to find a win.

It's not time for Murray to relax yet, either. She's still running a razor-thin race in a year that does not favor her party or the votes for Obama's policy agenda she's cast. As Washington Post's Chris Cillizza told ABC News' Topline in the days after Murray and Rossi emerged from Washington's top-two primary, Rossi has a lot to fight for.

"The cornered animal is the most dangerous animal," Cillizza said, referring to Rossi's two failed runs for governor. "I would say Dino Rossi looks at this and he says if he loses this one, that's it -- he's not going to be in politics anymore.