The openly gay “New Generation” Republican Carl DeMaio is now polling three points above incumbent Democrat Scott Peters in California’s evenly split 52nd district.

A UT San Diego poll released Monday shows DeMaio polling at 48% and Peters at 45%. Since the difference falls within the poll’s margin of error, the race stands at a virtual tie. This is an improvement from September, when DeMaio dropped below Peters for the first time since polling began in June.

From UT San Diego.

From UT San Diego.

It has been a whirlwind campaign for Peters and especially for DeMaio, who launched his maverick campaign after losing the 2012 mayoral race in San Diego. While Peters has consistently struggled to even appeal to his liberal base—being ranked by liberal bloggers as one of the worst freshman Democrats—DeMaio’s vows to push forward his “Fix Congress First” legislation and his efforts to reach out to traditionally non-Republican are impressing San Diegans and Republicans across the country.

You can read my past coverage of the CA52 race for further details: #CA52: Flip opportunity against 1st term Dem in evenly split district and #CA52 still looking like Republican flip opportunity.

UT San Diego breaks down the polling data by specific categories. Here’s a quick summary:

  • CA52 is comprised of 29.3% registered Independents, 32.1% Democrats, and 33.5% Republicans.
  • Male voters favor DeMaio by a margin of 12 points with 53% for DeMaio and 41% for Peters.
  • Independents favorite DeMaio by a margin of 18 points with 55% for DeMaio and 37% for Peters.
  • In CA52 candidate integrity is the most important issue, with fiscal responsibility and ability to reach across party lines coming in second and third.
  • DeMaio leads 81% to 15% on fiscal responsibility and 48% to 44% on integrity.
  • Peters leads 69% to 20% on ability to reach across party lines.

The weak assessments of Peters’ integrity and fiscal responsibility probably stem from his poor record on the San Diego City Council, where he helped sanction large public employee pension plans that nearly bankrupted the city until DeMaio stepped in years later. The UT San Diego also reported on Tuesday that Peters, whose net worth is almost $100 million, charged San Diego taxpayers for a $69,000 BMW as part of his personal car allowance.

DeMaio, meanwhile, has been delicately balancing the various sects of the GOP to his advantage. So far he has successfully branded himself as an independently-minded fiscal conservative and social liberal, which seems like the type of candidate who can win in southern California.

Oddly enough, it seems DeMaio is doing better at appealing to the GOP Establishment. The National Republican Congressional Committee and John Boehner have poured $3.2 million into DeMaio’s campaign and have ignored calls from some conservative groups to abandon gay GOP candidates with other socially liberal views.

Meanwhile, DeMaio recently took further steps to distance himself from the Tea Party by releasing a new campaign ad where he says, “As a proud gay American, I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but a Tea Party extremist? Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

As DeMaio treads on in the last four weeks, it seems the only way he can lose this election is if the GOP implodes, as it so often does, and fails to rally around him.