Whitman leads Brown in latest poll

Chris Rizo Mar. 17, 2010, 12:19pm

Meg Whitman (R)

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Republican Meg Whitman for the first time has a narrow lead in the nationally-watched California governor's race, a poll released Wednesday indicates.

The former eBay chief executive has a wide lead over her rival for the GOP nomination, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and a narrow one over Democrat Jerry Brown, the state's attorney general and a former governor, the nonpartisan Field Poll shows.

In the race for the GOP nomination, Whitman had 63 percent support among likely Republican primary voters while Poizner was backed by 14 percent. Since January, Whitman's lead over Poizner in the Field Poll has grown by more than 20 points.

In a hypothetical general election matchup, Whitman led Brown 46 percent to 43 percent. In January, Brown led Whitman by 10 points. The only region where Brown led Whitman is the San Francisco-Bay Area and in northern California areas outside the nine-county Bay Area region.

Among decline-to-state voters, the Field Poll found that 50 percent of respondents were backing Whitman, while 36 percent supported Brown.

"Whitman has a big lead over Brown among strong conservatives and also leads among moderate conservatives," the Field Poll said in its analysis. "The opposite pattern holds among moderate and strong liberals, where Brown is ahead by large margins. Middle-of-the-road voters are dividing about evenly."

On the Republican side, Whitman and Poizner are both wealthy former Silicon Valley executives, who have put large sums of money into their respective campaigns. Whitman has given her campaign $45 million. Poizner has stuffed his campaign war chest with $19 million of his own money.

Brown, on the other hand, has received financial help from independent expenditure groups, which by law cannot coordinate their efforts with the campaign.

He may seek another two terms as governor because he was governor from 1975 to 1983, before term limits were enacted. He was the mayor of Oakland, Calif., from 1998 to 2006, before being elected attorney general in 2007.

The Field Poll of 748 likely general election voters and 353 likely Republican primary voters was conducted from March 9 to 15. The survey has a 3.7 percent margin of error in its general election results and a 5.5 percent margin of error in its Republican primary survey.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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