The Washington Times - September 21, 2010, 01:08PM

Embattled Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell of Delaware, who has been hammered by critics and even fellow Republicans for a series of gaffes, trails Democratic nominee Chris Coons by a wide margin, a new poll shows.

Coons holds a 54 percent to 39 percent lead over O’Donnell in a survey conducted by Pulse Opinion Research for FOX News. Two percent of respondents said they will vote for another candidate, while 5 percent said they weren’t sure.

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O’Donnell, 41, a “tea party”-backed conservative, shocked party-establishment favorite Rep. Michael N. Castle to win last week’s GOP primary.

If Castle had won, the Pulse Opinion polls shows he would beat Coons by the same 15 percent-point margin it says the Democrat now holds over O’Donnell.

The survey shows that 59 percent of respondents believe Coons, the New Castle county executive, is qualified to serve in the Senate. Only one-third  — 33 percent — said that O’Donnell, who has held a series of jobs including working as a marketing and media consultant, is Senate material. 

The survey was conducted Saturday, one day before O’Donnell canceled scheduled appearances on two national television talk shows. The poll also was taken before widespread media coverage of a 1999 interview in which O’Donnell said she had dabbled in witchcraft.

On Monday, the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed complaints with the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware and the Federal Election Commission accusing O’Donnell of using campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and then lying about her expenditures on forms she filed with the FEC. O’Donnell’s campaign has called the accusations “frivolous.”