Jerry Brown (D)
Gavin Newsom (D)
Dianne Feinstein (D)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Although California Attorney General Jerry Brown has not officially entered the 2010 governor's race, a poll shows him to be the Democratic frontrunner so long as the state's senior U.S. senator decides not to enter the wide-open race.
The Field Poll released Thursday shows Brown, a former governor, leading his Democratic rival San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the three Republicans vying for the GOP nomination.
The poll indicates that Brown has a 20-point lead over Newsom, 47 percent to 27 percent, with a quarter of voters still undecided in the race for the Democratic nomination.
"The biggest differences in this contest, however, are by age," pollsters Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field wrote. "Among younger voters in the 18-39 age group, Newsom leads Brown 41 percent to 32 percent. However, Brown leads Newsom by 30 points among voters age 40 to 64, and by a huge 45 points among seniors age 65 or older."
The poll indicates that Brown's comfortable lead over Newsom would be erased if U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., entered the governor's race. She has said she does not plan to run, but Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target Book, told Legal Newsline that there are rumors that Feinstein might change her mind and make another run for governor.
"Of course, the big question mark out there is: Does Dianne Feinstein change her mind and enter the race?" Hoffenblum said in an interview last week. "Some people say that could still happen."
The Field Poll shows that Feinstein would have 40 percent support, compared to 27 percent for Brown and 16 percent for Newsom in the Democratic primary.
Taking Feinstein out of the equation, Brown, in a potential general election matchup with Republicans, leads former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner by double-digit margins.
"Most of that is coming from pure name recognition advantages the Democrats have," said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo. "Republicans at this point aren't on a level playing field."
The poll shows that Newsom also would beat out the three Republicans in a potential general election race, but only by single-digit margins.
"Gubernatorial primary polling is historically volatile, and we will see numbers go up and down throughout this campaign," Newsom campaign manager Nick Clemons said in a statement.
The Field Poll of 1,005 registered voters was conducted by phone from Sept. 18 through Monday. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.