(CNSNews.com) - A new Portrait of America opinion poll of Missouri voters shows the US Senate race between Republican incumbent John Ashcroft and the late Democratic Governor Mel Carnahan is now a toss up. However, POA pollsters say they will do another poll next week to assess the impact of Carnahan's death on that Senate race.
The latest Portrait of America poll shows Ashcroft leading Carnahan, 49 to 46 percent. Rasmussen Research conducted the poll by a telephone survey of 1,072 likely voters within the state of Missouri. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points within a 95 percent level of confidence.
According to Missouri Law, it is now too late to remove Carnahan's name from the ballot. Democratic Governor Roger Wilson has offered Carnahan's wife the Senate job if her late husband should win on election day.
Ashcroft held a 10-point advantage, 50 to 40 percent, in a POA opinion poll just prior to Carnahan's death.
"I don't know how you get a good handle at the moment at what's going to happen on election day in Missouri. It could be a sympathy vote. There was certainly a lot of publicity surrounding the funeral. And polling about someone who has recently passed away is something we have never done before," according to Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Research, who conducted the Portrait of America poll.
"We did this because we were on a poll in Missouri in the presidential race and some other things. We had to put the question in there because Mr. Carnahan's name is still going to be on the ballot. We are going to poll again next week in Missouri to see what's really shaping up. We're just going to have to wait until another poll comes and see. It's a very tricky area because of the dramatic nature of the recent events," Rasmussen said.
Meanwhile, the Portrait of American presidential poll in Missouri showed that Texas Governor George W Bush has a slim lead over Vice President Gore. Bush has 46 percent to Gore's 42 percent in the "Show Me" state. Bush had led by as many as seven percentage points in a previous POA survey.
In the Governor's race, Republican Congressman Jim Talent leads Democratic State Treasurer Bob Holden. Talent has 46 percent and Holden 44 percent. Pollsters are calling the Governor's race a tossup. Talent had led 47 to 39 percent in the previous POA survey.