updated 10/17/2006 12:15:24 PM ET 2006-10-17T16:15:24

Two polls released Tuesday show GOP Sen. Mike DeWine trailing his Democratic rival in a Senate race once considered among the closest in the country.

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U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown was favored by 53 percent of likely Ohio voters surveyed by The Quinnipiac University Poll, compared to 41 percent who favored DeWine.

The second poll suggested a closer race, with DeWine still within striking distance of Brown, but losing ground. Brown got 52 percent support to 45 percent for DeWine in the University of Cincinnati’s Ohio Poll.

The Quinnipiac telephone survey of 901 likely Ohio voters was conducted Oct. 10-15 and had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Results of the Ohio Poll, which surveyed 526 likely voters Oct. 9-14, had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

The Democrat’s biggest gains were with independent voters, many of whom had been undecided in September, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The scandal involving former Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Foley’s illicit e-mails to underage pages may also have had an impact on DeWine’s support.

Among white evangelical Christians questioned for the Quinnipiac poll, support for DeWine fell from a 63-27 percent advantage in September to a 57-37 percent in the latest poll. The new poll surveyed 272 self-described white evangelical Christians, with a margin of error for the group of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Among all voters, the September poll had found DeWine and Brown neck-and-neck.

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