Freshman Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) has stretched his lead as his rematch against former Rep. Melissa Hart (R) enters the final round, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The newspaper's poll of 400 likely voters, conducted by Susquehanna Polling and Research, gives Altmire a 53 percent to 35 percent edge over Hart. Twelve percent were undecided or would not state a preference; the margin of error is 4.9 percent. A Hart spokeswoman told the newspaper their internal polling was more favorable to the Republican.

Altmire ousted the three-term Hart, a rising star in the House GOP, on a 52 percent to 48 percent vote in 2006 as part of a Democratic tide that swept the party into control of Congress. The political novice's victory in the last election cycle also gave invigorated Democrats new hope that they could compete in the Pittsburgh suburbs, an area that could prove crucial to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's chances to win in electoral-vote-rich Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review poll shows Obama leading Republican presidential nominee John McCain 44 percent to 42 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed Obama with a larger, 53 percent to 40 percent lead.

The newspaper also reported that Altmire had $1.2 million in his campaign coffers, compared to $811,946 for Hart, as of Sept. 30.

-Jeffrey Young