The California governor’s race remains essentially a dead heat, according to the latest Field Poll, which finds a slight shift overall in favor of Democrat Jerry Brown at 44% compared to Republican Meg Whitman at 43%. In the last Field Poll in March, Whitman led Brown 46-43%.
But the finding in the survey that jumps out at Calbuzz is this: Whitman’s favorability rating, which was 40-27% positive in March has taken a huge hit. Her unfavorable rating has soared 15 points to 42% while her favorable has not budged one iota and remains at 40%.
In part that’s the effect of the $25 million negative campaign against eMeg by her Republican primary rival Steve Poizner. But it’s also after Whitman herself has spent more than $100 million, including about $2 million a week since the primary was concluded a month ago. Ouch.
Moreover, it looks like the attack ads on Whitman by Brown’s labor allies — including California Working Families 2010 — have had their intended effect: to increase Whitman’s negatives and keep her from pulling away from Brown during the summer, before he can afford to put his own ads on TV.
Meanwhile, Brown’s favorability is only marginally changed from March. It’s 42-40% favorable today, compared to 41-37% favorable before. (Of course, Brown’s favorable was 50-25% back in March of 2009, but that was when he was just the new Attorney General and not a candidate for governor with rivals.)
Whitman has gained some ground with Latinos, among whom Brown now leads 50-39% compared to 54-25% in March. Apparently, eMeg’s spending $600,000 a week on Spanish-language media while Krusty has yet done virtually nothing to reach out to Latinos has had some effect, even though Whitman took some harsh anti-illegal immigration stands during the primary campaign.
Whitman has not done as well as might have been expected with independents. She leads Brown marginally now, 42-39% among non-partisans compared to 50-36% in March. That’s a 3-point lead, down from 14 points. Both candidates are holding their party bases, although Whitman is doing better among Republicans (80-9%) than Brown is doing among Democrats (74-16%).
Whitman is winning about 75% of the conservatives, who make up 36% of the electorate, while Brown is winning about 80% of the liberals who account for 23% of the voters. In the battle for the critical middle-of-the-road voters – who make up about 41% of the electorate — Brown is ahead 49-35%.
Party remains a much stronger pull than gender: according to Field, Brown leads 45-41% among women while Whitman leads 46-42% among men. Democratic women favor Brown 72-14% while Republican women favor Whitman 79-10%.
The Field Poll surveyed 1,005 likely voters, including a random sub-sample of 357 voters, June 22-July 5. The margin of error for questions asked of all voters is +/- 3.2% and for questions asked of the sub-sample (including favorability) it is +/- 5.5%. Calbuzz has been refused the opportunity to subscribe to the Field Poll and has obtained the results elsewhere.
Unlike other polling organizations, the Field Poll chose not to sample a general election population when they fielded their June primary survey and therefore have no data on the Brown-Whitman race from then. Other surveys – by the Public Policy Institute of California and USC/Los Angeles Times – found Brown with a 5-6 point lead over Whitman. And a recent Reuters/Ipsos gave Brown a 6-point lead.
Each of those surveys, however, has a different methodology and sampling techniques and comparing them is considered by polling experts to be problematic. Nevertheless, some analysts create a sort of poll of polls and using that method, one could argue that the current Field Poll suggests a tightening of the race to a dead heat from a slight Brown advantage.
P.S. Calbuzz is not unmindful of the sharp disparity between these numbers and the Reuters/Ipsos survey we reported on just yesterday. Both polling outfits are reputable although in a pinch, we’d have to lean toward the Field Poll which is, by most measures, one of the most accurate, if not THE most accurate, polling firm in the country.
Up next: We’re expecting Field’s numbers on the Barbara Boxer-Carly Fiorina race for the U.S. Senate shortly and will bring our take on the state of that race when we do. We’ve also recently spent some quality time with Babs and will have a full report on our one-on-one interview with her — including a hair-curling look at Boxer’s true feelings about Hurricane Carly’s insult of her ‘do.