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Brown, Boxer Leading In Latest USC/LAT Poll

Andria Kowalchik |
September 26, 2010 | 5:24 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Race for California
Race for California

Democrat Jerry Brown has surpassed Republican Meg Whitman in the battle for governor, while Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer has opened up a large lead over GOP nominee Carly Fiorina in the U. S. Senate race, according to the latest USC College/Los Angeles Times poll.

The poll, which surveyed 1,511 registered voters, found that former Governor and current Attorney General Brown holds a 49-44 percent advantage over former EBay CEO Whitman. Boxer is comfortably ahead of former Hewlett Packard CEO Fiorina by 51-43 percent among likely voters. 

The results might be surprising, since nine in ten people believe California is headed in the wrong direction and a majority of voters think Whitman has the necessary new ideas, decisiveness, and a better handle on the economy. But, despite spending $119 million on her campaign, Whitman hasn’t provided any connection to the voters, according to the new poll. 

Only 36 percent of voters surveyed said they thought Whitman would “understand the problems and concerns of people like me,” compared to 48 percent for Jerry Brown. And while neither candidate is seen as particularly likeable, Brown’s favorable and unfavorable ratings are evenly matched at 45 percent each. Whitman’s ratings, on the other hand, are 47 percent unfavorable to just 37 percent favorable. 

“Voters give credit to Whitman when it comes to having new ideas, but they are divided on whether they want a governor with business experience or government experience, and they overwhelmingly prefer a governor who will be collaborative rather than confrontational,” said Darry Sragow, interim director of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll.

The Democratic candidates in both races are benefitting from the continued popularity of President Obama in California. Even as his image has taken a hit elsewhere in the country, the president enjoys a 60 percent favorability rating in California. 

The president’s support in California may be one of the biggest problems for Fiorina. She has vowed to work against the President’s agenda if elected to the Senate, but 56 percent of voters polled say they “want a senator who will most likely support President Obama’s policies.”

Whitman, meanwhile, seems to be doing better than her senatorial counterpart, in large part because of her ability to overcome ideological differences in a traditionally democratic state. 

“In the governor’s race, Whitman has portrayed herself as a moderate, while the Senate race remains ideologically charged,” said Jane Junn, professor of political science in USC College and research director of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll. “Any Republican candidate running in California has to overcome higher party registration numbers for Democrats, and Meg Whitman seems to have done a better job moving toward the center than Carly Fiorina.”

Whitman has done a good job of infringing on the Democratic stronghold, but Brown still leads in three key groups: women, Latinos, and young voters. 

Brown, in fact, holds a double-digit lead with Latino voters. 55 percent of Latino voters surveyed say they will vote for Brown, compared to only 35 percent pledging their vote for Whitman. The remaining 10 percent said they are still undecided. 

The poll also surveyed voter attitude toward Proposition 23. Prop 23, if passed, would suspend California’s 2006 global warming statute, which set new standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions back to levels they were in 1990.  

The poll results showed California voters are divided, with 40 percent saying they were in favor of the measure and 38 percent saying they are opposed. 

The initiative seems to be a political divide, with Democrats opposing the measure with ratings of 49 percent against it to only 27 percent for it, and Republicans strongly favoring the measure with 57 percent in support to only 26 percent in opposition. 

To see the full analysis and polling results, click here.


Reach Reporter Andria Kowalchik here



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