Castle, Biden in Delaware dead heat

Two well-known and well-liked figures are neck and neck in the race to fill Vice President Joe Biden's Senate seat, according to a poll released Thursday.

Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) is the choice of 46 percent of First State voters, while Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden (D), the vice president's son, won 45 percent of the vote, according to a poll conducted by the independent firm Research 2000 for the liberal DailyKos website.

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Castle entered the race last week, while Biden, who just returned from Iraq, has yet to formally get in. Washington Democrats expect Biden to enter the race and set up what is likely to be one of the closest showdowns in the country next year.

On Thursday morning, Biden told ABC's "Good Morning America" that he is "absolutely" interested in making a run for his father's old seat, but that a decision will come after he spends time with his family and returns to his post as Delaware's top attorney.

"There's time to make that decision," Biden said. "Am I considering it? Absolutely. Absolutely. But I'll be making the decision in due course."

The poll shows both Biden and Castle are well-liked by huge majorities of Delaware voters. Biden's favorable rating is 65 percent, while Castle's is 64 percent; 29 percent see the Democrat unfavorably, while 30 percent see the Republican in a negative light.

Castle holds a 48 percent-to-40 percent lead among independent voters, and he pulls 21 percent of Democrats, according to the survey. Biden, meanwhile, wins backing from just 9 percent of Republicans.

Democrats hold a wide advantage in party registration. The party accounts for 47 percent of all registered voters, while Republicans make up just 29.6 percent, according to the office of the Commissioner of Elections. The poll surveyed a slightly higher percentage of Republicans than are registered in the state.

Meanwhile, Castle's decision to vacate his House seat means Republicans will have a difficult time holding it. Match-ups between former Lt. Gov. John Carney (D), who has already said he is running, and two lesser-known Republicans show Delaware is a prime Democratic pickup opportunity.

Castle leads former state Sen. Charlie Copeland (R) by a 44 percent-to-21 percent margin, and he sports a 45 percent-to-18 percent lead over state Rep. Greg Lavelle (R).

The poll was conducted Monday through Wednesday among 600 likely, regular voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.