Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt maintains a strong lead in the United States Senate race, according to a public opinion poll conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV.

Blunt leads Secretary of State Robin Carnahan 49% to 40%, a larger lead than he held in a poll conducted by the newspaper and television station this summer. The lead for Blunt, a Republican, has expanded even during a time of a harshly negative media campaign by Carnahan, a Democrat.

Pollsters conducted telephone interviews at random with 625 registered Missouri voters who said they cast ballots regularly in state elections. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll was conducted Oct. 18 through Oct. 20, significant because that came just after the only two debates of the campaign, debates in which Carnahan pressed her theme that Blunt is too closely tied to Washington and his connections in the nation’s capital have made him corrupt. Blunt has countered with charges that Carnahan is too closely tied to President Obama, who has a negative rating in the state.

Numbers released from the poll indicate Carnahan is trailing Blunt in every region of the state, except for St. Louis.

The campaign seems to be undermining the reputation of both. In the July poll, 23% of the respondents held an unfavorable view of Blunt with 38% holding an unfavorable opinion of Carnahan. The October polls reflected a plunge in the two candidates’ rating. Now, 35% of the voters view Blunt unfavorably with 48% telling pollsters they have an unfavorable opinion of Carnahan.