GOP Sen. Mike DeWine has fallen well behind his Democratic rival in a Senate race once considered among the closest in the country, a poll released Tuesday shows.

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

The telephone survey of 901 likely Ohio voters, conducted Oct. 10-15, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

A September Quinnipiac poll had showed the two men neck-and-neck in one of the closest races in the country.

As the scandal involving former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley's illicit e-mails to underage pages has unfolded, support for DeWine has slipped among white evangelical Christians, from a 63-27 percent advantage in September to 57-37 percent in the latest poll. The survey included 272 self-described white evangelical Christians, with a margin of error of 5.9 percent for the group.

The Democratic candidate showed his biggest gains with independent voters, many of whom had been undecided in September, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The university conducts polls in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research.