Experts say personal issues have damaged the Meg Whitman campaign, allowing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown to secure a 13-point lead, according to the latest Los Angeles Times/USC poll.
Former governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown leads Whitman, former eBay CEO and Republican candidate, 52 percent to 39 percent.
“She’s got a problem that’s not issue-related — it’s a personal one,” said Darry Sragow, interim director of the poll, during a press call about the numbers.
The latest LAT/USC poll is part of a six-survey series on the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 2. For this poll, 1,501 voters were polled from Oct. 13 to Oct. 20.
Democrats had favorable numbers for both major elections in the poll.
Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer holds onto an eight-point lead against Republican senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina.
Though the poll has Boxer leading Fiorina 50 percent to 42 percent, this is not necessarily indicative of what the results will be for such a close race, said Tom Hollihan, professor of communication at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
“A poll today is accurate, but it’s accurate today. It’s not necessarily going to predict the outcome on Election Day,” Hollihan said.
Students said, however, that they aren’t sure how much impact it will make on the minds of young voters.
“I think it will target young people to get more information about what’s going on,” said Zac Levine, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “But I don’t think students will necessarily be influenced by the polls.”
“Political events like the big rally on Friday are much more likely to be inspirational to engaged university students as a result of this poll, even if it has USC’s name on it,” he said.
Other events can also sway public opinion, such as the allegation by Whitman’s former housekeeper that Whitman knew she was of illegal status while under employment.
“If you look at the tea leaves here, it does seem that the incident involving the housekeeper seemed to have a very big effect,” said Manuel Pastor, a USC professor of American studies and ethnicity.
October’s 66-question poll surveyed only registered California voters and was created by two polling firms, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinian Rosner and Republican firm American Viewpoint.
“Over the course of the campaign, different events occur and it’s good to be able to track what the impact of those events is on public opinion. Each of these polls is just a snapshot of public opinion at the time,” said Ann Crigler, a USC professor of political science and interim director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.
The LAT/USC poll is unique in its survey of voter enthusiasm and oversampling of Latino voters that Crigler said is an important sector of the California electorate.
She also said students working on the poll help spread interest around campus.
“A lot of students aren’t from California, so they haven’t really kept up with what’s going on, but now they’re more interested and they’re sharing that with their friends,” Crigler said. “They’re like ‘Wow, that’s our school.’”