Poll: Brown, Whitman in a dead heat
SACRAMENTO – The race for California governor is in a dead heat with just six weeks to go before Election Day, according to a Field Poll released Thursday that shows Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman in a fierce contest for nearly every key voting bloc.
Brown and Whitman both have 41 percent support of likely voters, with 18 percent undecided or not inclined to vote for either candidate.
Whitman has made inroads with women, Hispanics and independent voters, suggesting the amount of money she has poured into targeting specific groups is paying off.
“Whitman has been successful in negating the traditional advantage that Democratic candidates have had in some very pivotal segments of the voting population,” Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said.
The poll showed women-where Democrats have a registration advantage of 15 percentage points over Republicans-are evenly split in their support of the candidates.
Hispanics, who account for 15 percent of this year’s likely voters, favor Brown over Whitman 43 percent to 40 percent, although the gap is within the poll’s margin of error. Hispanics usually back Democrats by 30 to 40 percentage points over Republicans, DiCamillo said.
In both cases, the Whitman campaign has made extensive outreach efforts.
She has formed a MEGaWomen coalition to recruit female volunteers to her campaign and courted Hispanic voters through Spanish-language radio and television ads, billboards, bus-stop posters and a Spanish-language website. She also has ventured into Hispanic-dominated parts of the state.
Brown has a significant advantage among blacks, Asian-Americans and American Indians, who collectively favor Brown 48 percent to 26 percent. Those groups comprise about 13 percent of the expected electorate.
Meanwhile, 24 percent of California voters who are registered as independents or with a minor party said they are undecided.
“That says to me they will probably decide the election,” DiCamillo said.
The poll shows Whitman with slightly more support in Los Angeles County, a traditional Democratic stronghold. The former eBay chief executive has been advertising heavily there since winning the GOP primary in June.
Brown, a former mayor of Oakland, is strongest in the San Francisco Bay area.
Democrats hold a 13 percentage point registration advantage over Republicans, 44.3 percent to 30.9 percent, according to a recent report by the secretary of state’s office. But the gap on Election Day is expected to be just 9 percentage points, according to the poll.
In general, Republican voters have been more energized this year than Democrats.
Slightly more than half of likely voters said they would vote by mail, while 49 percent said they would vote at their local precinct on Election Day. Whitman holds a 44 percent to 40 percent lead over Brown among mail-in voters, while precinct voters narrowly favor Brown 42 percent to 39 percent.
The poll surveyed 857 registered voters from Sept. 14 to Sept. 21 and has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.
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