Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman are in a dead heat in the governor’s race, but 18 percent of voters are still undecided a month before the election, a new Public Policy Institute of California survey says.
The survey, released last night, was completed before Tuesday’s first gubernatorial debate – and before Whitman’s campaign was roiled yesterday by allegations that she had knowingly employed an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper at her Atherton home.
The survey also showed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer with a seven-point lead over former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, her Republican challenger. Again, a significant number of likely voters, 17 percent, are undecided.
The survey says that only one measure on the November state ballot is poised to pass – Prop. 19, which would legalize marijuana in the state. It is favored by 52 percent and opposed by 41 percent. Seven percent are undecided.
Likely voters are deadlocked, 43 to 42 percent, on Prop. 23, which would suspend the state’s anti-global warming measure until the economy improves. Again, a significant number of voters are undecided – 15 percent.
The survey results portray California voters as deeply worried about the economy – most still believe the state is mired in recession – and dissatisfied with the matchup in the governor’s race, said PPIC president Mark Baldassare.
“Neither the candidates nor the ballot measures have captured the imagination of the California electorate,” he said in a news release. “There’s consensus about the problems, and voters are looking for a game-changer. They don’t see one on the ballot.”
Whitman, the former eBay CEO, has spent $113 million of her own money to win the GOP nomination and mount a campaign against Democrat Brown, the attorney general and former governor. She’s favored by 38 percent of those surveyed; he’s favored by 37 percent.
Since July’s survey, Whitman has picked up five points, while Brown has gained a single point, as formerly undecided voters started to make up their minds.
Brown has a big lead in the Bay Area – 50 percent of voters there favor him, the survey says – while Whitman is showing up particularly well in the Central Valley, where she is favored by 47 percent of likely voters, the survey says. Since July, Whitman has added five points in the Valley and six points in Los Angeles, according to the results.
Men and women are fairly evenly divided in the race. But men are trending toward Brown – he’s picked up six points among them since July – while women are trending toward Whitman, who has gained nine points among them.
Brown is still favored by Latino voters, 32 to 25, but Whitman has gained seven points among them since July, the survey says.
It will be interesting to see if those gains hold as the story of Whitman and her Latina housekeeper continues to unfold.
In a statement Wednesday, Whitman said that last year, nine years after she was hired, housekeeper Nicandra Diaz confessed she had used fake personal information to get her job. Whitman said she then fired her.
But Diaz’ lawyer, Gloria Allred, said at a press conference that Whitman knew Diaz was an illegal immigrant and fired her only after she had decided to run for governor. She was treated like "garbage," a sobbing Diaz said.