Brown Has 8-Point Lead Over Whitman in California Poll

Democrat Jerry Brown has opened an eight-percentage-point lead over Republican Meg Whitman in the race for governor of California, a poll shows, with less than two weeks until the Nov. 2 election.

Brown tops Whitman 44 percent to 36 percent among likely voters, the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California said. A Sept. 29 poll by the San Francisco-based research group gave Brown 37 percent of the vote to Whitman’s 38 percent.

“He particularly picked up support among Democrats, women and Latinos since the last survey,” Mark Baldassare, the institute’s president, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “It’s been an eventful few weeks. There have been debates. There have been allegations. There have been counter-allegations.”

Brown, 72, who was governor from 1975 to 1983 and is now attorney general, is vying with Whitman, 54, the former chief executive officer of EBay Inc., to lead the state with the most people, biggest economy and worst credit rating in the U.S. The victor will inherit a state climbing out of a $19 billion budget deficit, with unemployment at 12.4 percent in August.

Both candidates have been touched by scandal over the past month. A former housekeeper accused Whitman of employing her even after learning she was in the country illegally. Brown used the allegation to accuse Whitman, who advocates a crackdown on undocumented workers, of “talking from both sides of her mouth.”

Leaked Recording

In an Oct. 12 debate, Brown apologized to Whitman for an aide’s calling her a “whore” in a leaked recording of a private conversation he had with campaign staff. Whitman attacked Brown for “insensitivity to what that word means to women.”

The poll also said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer’s lead narrowed over Republican Carly Fiorina. Boxer has support from 43 percent of likely voters to Fiorina’s 38 percent. Boxer held a seven-point advantage, 42 percent to 35 percent, in September.

Support fell for the ballot measure to legalize marijuana, Proposition 19, with 44 percent backing it and 49 percent against. In September, supporters held the lead, 52 percent to 41 percent. On Oct. 13, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder warned that the Justice Department will “vigorously” enforce federal drug laws even if the initiative passes.

Greenhouse Gases

Favor also waned for a proposition to suspend a state law requiring reduced greenhouse-gas emissions until California’s unemployment rate falls to at least 5.5 percent. Only 37 percent endorse Proposition 23, while 48 percent oppose it. Last month, 43 percent were in favor, 42 percent against.

Support increased slightly for a proposal to let lawmakers pass a budget with a simple majority, instead of the current two-thirds. Forty-nine percent back the measure, to 34 percent against, compared with 48 percent to 35 percent in September. The two-thirds requirement contributed to a record 100-day delay in the approval of a budget this year.

Likely voters had an increasingly negative impression of the Tea Party, with 47 percent viewing it unfavorably and 35 percent favorably. In March, unfavorable views led 37 percent to 34 percent.

The telephone survey of 1,067 likely voters conducted Oct. 10-17 has a margin for error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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