Former Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who replaced incumbent Sen. Robert Torricelli in the New Jersey Senate race, has forged ahead of Republican Douglas Forrester, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday gives Lautenberg a 52 to 43 percent lead among likely voters. The poll of 603 likely voters has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

A previous Quinnipiac poll, released Oct. 7, showed Lautenberg with 49 percent to businessman Forrester's 45. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Lautenberg has widened his lead among females from 56 to 39 percent in the Oct. 7 poll to 59 to 35 percent, the poll found.

"The large gender gap in the race, with Lautenberg the heavy favorite among women, suggests Forrester is being hurt by his abortion views and his position that current gun control laws are adequate,'' said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The Quinnipiac poll is the second this week to indicate that Lautenberg has pulled ahead.

Lautenberg led Forrester 47 percent to 42 percent among likely voters in a survey released Monday by The Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll. The margin of error was 5 percentage points. Likely voters surveyed by the same poll early in the month split 44-44.

Lautenberg replaced Torricelli at the beginning of October after Torricelli withdrew in the face of lingering questions over ethical lapses and declining poll numbers.

The New Jersey Supreme Court allowed Democrats to replace Torricelli after a state deadline for switching candidates. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling.

Lautenberg served 18 years in the Senate before retiring at the end of 2000.