On the strength of about $19 million spent in 2009, Meg Whitman has surged to a 45-17% lead over Steve Poizner in the Republican race for governor and picked up 11 points against Democrat Jerry Brown, who still leads her by 46-36% in a simulated general election match-up, according to the latest Field Poll.
Attorney Gen. Brown, who has not yet formally declared his candidacy for governor, also leads Insurance Commissioner Poizner 48-31% in a general election simulated by the Field Poll, the basic results of which were made available to Calbuzz.*
In the absence of a campaign, Crusty the General has lost some ground to both eMeg and the Commish. In October he led Whitman 50-29% and he was ahead of Poizner 50-25% in the Field Poll.
In the GOP race, Whitman and Poizner nearly evenly split most of the voters who would otherwise have supported former Congressman Tom Campbell, who jumped into the U.S. Senate race last week. In a three-way race for governor, the Field Poll had it 36% for Whitman, 22% for Campbell and 9% for Poizner.
Despite Whitman’s formidable lead in the GOP primary and her overwhelming spending, 38% of Republican voters remain undecided – giving Poizner hope that he can catch up and capture the nomination.
Now that the Republican contest is a two-way race, Poizner is free to go after Whitman without fear of giving a boost to a third candidate. But his verbal swipes at Whitman have thus far have not reverberated beyond the echo chamber of the political press corps.
Meanwhile Brown’s overall image rating — 44% favorable and 32% unfavorable — has remained basically unchanged since October when it was 44-29%. Brown has picked up some among Democrats: he’s now 64-17% compared to 57-18% in October. Among Republicans, however, his favorable has dipped to 20-57% from 26-27% in October.
Importantly, however, Brown’s favorable rating among independents is 20 points positive – 43-23% — compared to 44-26% in October. Still, nearly a quarter of all voters have no opinion about the former two-term governor, making him vulnerable to negative framing by either or both of his potential opponents.
A major challenge for Brown is introducing himself to younger voters who have no idea who he is from his previous incarnation as governor. According to the San Francisco Chronicle — a Field Poll subscriber with early access to survey data — 60 percent of respondents under 30 had no opinion of Brown.
Despite spending $19 million, Whitman remains unknown to a majority of voters, with a 25-20% favorable rating, up from 18-14% in October. Her favorable ratings are 16-31% negative among Democrats, a slide from her 15-18% in October; 34-8% positive among Republicans, an improvement from 29-10% in October; and 27-13% among independents, a big boost from 12-12% in October.
Poizner remains virtually unknown and not all that popular among those who have an opinion about him. His overall approval is 16-20% negative – 15-22% among Democrats, 18-19% among Republicans, and 27-13% among independents. In October, Poizner’s overall favorability rating was 22-17% positive; 20-20% among Democrats, 24-16% among Republicans, and 22-15% among independents.
The Field Poll surveyed 958 likely voters Jan. 5-17 by land line and cell phone, including 202 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the overall sample is plus or minus 3.3% and for the GOP sample it is 7.1%.
* Calbuzz does not receive the Field Poll in advance from the Field Corp. We offered to pay for a subscription, but were rejected because Field executives fear the wrath of their MSM clients, some of whom have complained behind our backs about us getting the survey.
When we can find out more information — like how each of the candidates is doing among voters in different age, race, gender and geograhpic categories — Calbuzz will report it.