Brown campaign photo
Attorney General Jerry Brown has pulled 8 points ahead of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in the California governor’s race, according to the Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll.
The survey, completed Sunday and made public Wednesday night, showed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer with a narrower lead of 5 points over her Republican challenger, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
The survey also showed trouble for several propositions, including Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana, and Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s anti-global warming law until the economy improves.
Survey results reflect the sour mood of California voters, said Mark Baldassare, the institute’s president: they are convinced the state is mired in recession, worry about making ends meet and fret that they or someone in their family will get laid off at work. That pessimism about the economy colors their take on the candidates, he said.
“As they view their ballot options on Election Day, voters are united in their unhappiness with elected officials and the direction of their government – but divided about the leadership they want to help meet the challenges in their lives,” he said in a statement.
However reluctantly, voters seem to be turning to Brown, a career Democratic politician who served as governor from 1974 to 1982 and later was elected mayor of Oakland and then attorney general.
In September, Brown was locked in a tie with Whitman, a political novice who has spent $140 million of her own money on the campaign.
Now he leads his Republican rival by 44 to 36 percent, with 15 percent of voters still undecided.
For Brown, it was a pickup of 7 points since last month’s survey; for Whitman, it was a 2-point drop off.
The controversy over Whitman’s employment – and subsequent firing – of an undocumented housekeeper from Mexico appeared to have boosted Brown’s campaign.
In September’s survey, Latinos favored Brown over Whitman by 32 to 25 percent, while Peace and Freedom candidate Carlos Alvarez was favored by 11 percent.
Since then, Whitman’s former housekeeper has held two intensely-covered news conferences, publicly accusing the billionaire Republican of treating her “like garbage” after she worked for nine years in Whitman’s Atherton home.
In the new poll, Brown’s support among Latinos rose 19 points, to 51 percent. Whitman, who has spent millions advertising in Spanish-language media, dropped 3 points, to 22 percent. Meanwhile, support for Alvarez evaporated, with almost all of those voters seemingly turning to Brown.
The poll also showed Brown’s support increased 12 points since September among women; he’s now favored over Whitman, 47 to 32. Whitman's campaign had hoped to get traction with female voters from "Whoregate," the flap over a Brown staffer who, on a recording [MP3], referred to Whitman as a "whore" for pursuing endorsements from police unions.
In the senate race, Boxer is favored 43 to 38 percent, with 13 percent undecided. The contest has tightened since last month, according to the poll; in the interim, the national Republican Party has pumped money into pro-Fiorina television advertising.
Boxer is favored by Latinos (52-17) and women (48-32); Fiorina has more support among men (44-38) and whites (46-38). In all, 62 percent of the poll’s respondents said they were not satisfied with their choice of candidates for the senate, according to the poll.
Support for Prop. 19, the initiative to legalize marijuana, has dropped 8 points, to 44 percent in favor, since the September poll. In the meantime, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a measure that essentially decriminalizes marijuana use in the state.
In September’s survey, voters were deadlocked on Prop. 23, the measure funded largely by oil companies that would suspend anti-global warming legislation. Now voters are turning against it, 37 to 48 percent.
Proposition 25, which would make it easier for the state legislature to pass its budget, is faring better but still lacks majority support; it’s favored, 49 to 34 percent.
Last month, when a Los Angeles Times-University of Southern California poll showed Brown with a 5-point lead, Whitman’s aides complained that the poll had over-sampled prospective Democratic voters, tilting the results.