Months ago, Jerry Brown’s campaign manager, Steve Glazer, told us he thought the race for governor between his guy and Meg Whitman would either be very, very close or a blow-out for Brown. With Whitman spending more than $160 million thus far and her spinmeisters claiming that their private polling was showing the race neck-and-neck, most analysts have been reluctant to acknowledge that public surveys have consistently shown Brown breaking away.
That’s hard to do today with the big Los Angeles Times/USC survey finding Democrat Brown — with overwhelming support from independents, moderates, Latinos and women — leading Republican Whitman 52-39% among likely voters, compared to 49-44% last month. And that’s with a survey model that gives the GOP a huge enthusiasm advantage, pegging likely voters at 44% Democrat and 40% Republican – far closer than the 13% difference between them in official registration.
Among key constituencies who tilt the balance in statewide races in California, Brown leads 61-24% among independents, 59-30% among moderates and 61-27% among Latinos – not to mention his 55-34% advantage among women, who comprised 53% of the LAT/USC likely voter universe.[Results and crosstabs here.]
The survey also shows Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer with a smaller but still hefty 8-point lead over Republican Carly Fiorina – 50-42% — with Fiorina doing better among conservative-leaning constituencies than Whitman, especially in the Central Valley. Like Brown, Boxer has consolidated the vote among classic Democratic blocs and she has huge leads in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Despite heavy breathing from the national press corps, the race is essentially unchanged in the LAT/USC survey, from 51-43% last month.
The poll suggests – as did another from the Public Policy Institute of California last week – that Whitman has been unable to develop support beyond the conservative, Republican base vote in Southern California and rural areas of the state. Despite all the money she has spent on television commercials, key blocs of voters – including women, Latinos and middle-of-the-road Californians — just don’t like her.
While Brown’s overall favorability is nothing to write home about – 48% favorable versus 44% unfavorable, at least Krusty is on the plus side. eMeg is below water at 37% favorable and 52% unfavorable. About seven in 10 Republicans and conservatives give her favorable marks, but among independents, only 18% have a favorable view of her compared to 69% with an unfavorable view; Latinos have a 2-to-1 unfavorable view of her at 26-52% and women are fed up with her too – 33% favorable compared to 55% unfavorable.
Exactly what women find objectionable about Whitman is hard to pin down from the LAT/USC data. But here’s one clue: When asked how well Whitman handled her “nanny situation,” 38% of women said “well” and 54% said not “well.” (BTW, 26% of Latinos said “well” compared to 68% who said not “well.”)
Brown was also judged better than Whitman in terms of understanding people, speaking plainly, knowing how to get the job done and, by-2-to-1, telling the truth. The 54-year-old Whitman had only slightly better marks than the 72-year-old Brown on having the energy to get the job done and being decisive.
In the Senate race, Boxer and Fiorina each are pulling about eight in 10 votes from of their own party vote, but Boxer has a big 58-26% lead among independents and a 59-31% lead among moderates. Fiorina is leading Boxer in Southern California outside of LA 51-39% and in the Central Valley 53-40% which is why she’s running closer to Boxer than Whitman is to Brown.
Boxer’s favorability is pretty weak – 44% favorable and 50% unfavorable. But it’s better than Fiorina’s – 36% favorable and 43% unfavorable. Importantly for Boxer, independents like her a lot more than they do Fiorina: 50-42% favorable for Boxer compared to 16-60% unfavorable for Fiorina. And while women aren’t exactly wild about Boxer – 47-46% on the favorable side – they don’t care for Fiorina at all: they rate her 32% favorable and 45% unfavorable.
The Democratic firm Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner and the Republican firm American Viewpoint conducted the poll for the Los Angeles Times and the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, calling landlines and cellphones Oct. 13-20. A random sample of 1,501 California registered voters were called, including an oversample of Latino respondents for a total of 460 Latino interviews. The survey identified 922 likely voters for whom the margin of error is +/- 3.2%. The margin of error for Latinos is +/- 4.6%.
To be included in the likely voter sample, respondents must have voted in 2006 and 2008, said they were “almost certain” or “probably” going to vote in 2010 and rated their enthusiasm about voting as 5 or higher on a 10-point scale. Those who registered since the 2008 election were included if they met the enthusiasm standard and said they are “almost certain” to vote this time around. Likely voters also included those said they have already have voted by mail — about 7% of voters surveyed.