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ST. LOUIS -- Robin Carnahan's campaign has found reason for optimism in a poll that suggests the race is tightening -- although her opponent stills enjoys an enviable lead.

The poll commissioned by the Democratic Senate hopeful shows Carnahan trailing Republican Roy Blunt 46-41. A poll conducted by the same firm in August found Blunt with an even wider lead, 45-38 percent.

The latest poll, with a margin of error of just under 4 percent, queried 646 likely voters.

It was conducted Sunday and today -- that's right, some respondents were questioned this morning, and results were available in the afternoon. (That's why, with about two weeks to go before Election Day, campaigns prefer automated polls.)

While the results show a bounce for Carnahan after her debates last week with Blunt, there remains, the survey shows, substantial reasons for Blunt to remain confident.

When asked their view of Blunt, 42 percent of respondents indicated they had a favorable opinion of the southwest Missouri Conrgessman. Only 39 percent said they had a favorable view of Carnahan -- with 53 percent saying they had an unfavorable opinion of her.

The poll showed that Blunt is doing slightly better with women voters, but the real difference between candidates is their appeal to independents -- 46 percent for Blunt, 31 percent for Carnahan.

Still, while the Carnahan campaign will highlight what the poll shows as a narrowing lead for Blunt, the real silver lining may be the voters who have not picked a candidate -- according to the poll, 7 percent of the voters who responded are undecided, suggesting a race that is, theoretically at least, within reach.

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