Poll: Calif. governor’s race in statistical tie
July 8, 2010
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman find themselves tied in their race for California governor, but voters have grown increasingly disenchanted with both candidates, according to a poll released Wednesday.
Brown has support from 44 percent of likely voters, compared with 43 percent for Whitman, but the difference is well within the Field Poll’s margin of error.
The poll shows 40 percent have an unfavorable impression of the state attorney general and former governor, up from 32 percent in January.
Since she won the primary, Whitman has released television ads that are playing continuously throughout the state, one promoting her general vision for California’s future and another characterizing Brown’s first tenure as governor in the 1970s and early 1980s as a failure.
Brown has yet to release any of his own advertisements, which has wounded the candidate, said the poll’s director, Mark DiCamillo.
“You’re watching TV, you’re picking up messages that are positive for Whitman and negative for Brown,” DiCamillo said. “His image rating could go down further if the advertising continues without any answer.”
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While Brown is doing no advertising of his own, independent groups aligned with unions have been airing anti-Whitman television commercials.
Whitman’s image also suffered during a bruising Republican primary campaign, when she endured attacks from her former opponent, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
The Field Poll found that 42 percent of voters had an unfavorable impression of the former eBay CEO. That’s up from 20 percent in January, when many voters had not yet formed an opinion of the former eBay CEO.
Whitman appears to have made inroads with ethnic voters and union members, key Democratic constituencies.
While Hispanics favor Brown over Whitman 50 percent to 39 percent, they usually back Democrats by a 3-to-1 ratio, DiCamillo said.
Likewise, union members are not giving as much support to Brown as they have given to Democrats in the past. In January, Whitman was trailing among union households by a 2-to-1 margin, but she trailed Brown only 41 percent to 47 percent in the Field Poll.
In both instances, Whitman has stepped up her outreach to those groups, courting Hispanics with a TV ad that notes her opposition to Arizona’s immigration law and sending campaign fliers to California nurses.
“Here we are in the early stages and we see the outlines of what she’s trying to do, broaden support among ethnic voters and union members,” DiCamillo said.
If Whitman continues to soften Democrats’ hold on Hispanic and union voters, she might not need the double-digit support from decline-to-state voters often required for a Republican to win, DiCamillo said.
Democrats hold a registration advantage over Republicans in California, 44.5 percent to 30.8 percent. Decline-to-state voters comprise 20.2 percent of the electorate.
Whitman has a slight edge among nonpartisan voters, with 42 percent supporting her compared with 39 percent for Brown.
The telephone survey of 1,005 likely voters was taken June 22 to July 5. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. The margin of error was 5.5 percentage points for those voters who were asked more detailed questions.