Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has a slight edge over his Republican rival Meg Whitman, according to a new poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times and USC’s College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.
The poll is part of a series of six statewide opinion polls that began in November 2009 and will continue until the November elections this year. The most recent poll surveyed 1,511 registered voters in the state, including 887 likely voters, from Sept. 15 to 22.
About 49 percent of voters said they would vote for Brown if the governor’s election were held today, compared to 44 percent of voters who supported Whitman. Five percent were undecided, according to the poll.
Brown’s five-point lead is because of his double-digit advantage among likely Latino voters, who voted 55 to 35 percent in favor of Brown with 10 percent undecided, said Darry Sragow, interim director of the Los Angeles Times/USC poll.
“We included a very large Latino oversample in the poll,” Sragow said. “These data are stronger in relation to the number of Latino voters because the samples were much closer to the actual demographics.”
The poll showed that Whitman has had trouble connecting with voters, polling 12 points behind Brown on whether she “understands the problems and concerns of people like me.”
Whitman scored positively among only 36 percent of voters, versus Brown’s 48 percent.
“We all noticed that [Whitman’s] support levels reached a certain point, then seemed to stall,” Sragow said. “Brown has been ramping up his campaign, so you’d expect to see his force solidifying.”
Whitman did score high, however, among voters who thought she had more “new ideas to help California,” scoring positively with 48 percent of voters; compared to Brown’s 32 percent.
Neither candidate has an advantage among voters on immigration or taxes, but potential voters believe Brown would do a better job on education by a margin of 47 to 33 percent.
“[Voters] are divided on whether they want a governor with business experience or government experience,” Sragow said. “They overwhelmingly prefer a governor who will be collaborative rather than confrontational.”
A majority of voters were also in support of Democrat Barbara Boxer in the race for the U.S. Senate. Boxer leads among 51 percent of likely voters, compared to 43 percent for former Hewlett-Packard Co. chairman and CEO and Republican candidate Carly Fiorina.
A majority of women support Boxer — 53 percent to Fiorina’s 39 percent — as do a majority of decline-to-state voters, of whom she holds 56 percent of the vote to Fiorina’s 34 percent.
“A large number of people still seem to remain undecided,” said Jane Junn, professor of political science at USC. “And this is among likely voters, adding uncertainty to the campaign.”