Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
February 26, 2010

Former eBay boss Meg Whitman holds a commanding lead over Steve Poizner, her rival for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and runs ahead of Democrat Jerry Brown, a new poll of “high-propensity” voters by Datamar, an El Cajon survey firm, has found.

Datamar took an unusual polling approach by tossing all three candidates for governor into the same polling pot. Whitman came out on top at 29.1 percent, followed by Brown, a former governor who is now attorney general, at 25.1 percent and Poizner, the state insurance commissioner, at 20.5 percent. The found 25.4 percent of voters undecided.

Datamar’s partisan breakout found that Whitman enjoys support from 62.5 percent of Republicans and Poizner just 8.5 percent. Interestingly, Brown – who likely to formally announce his candidacy next week – drew backing from just 37.2 percent of Democrats while Poizner was favored by 31 percent of Democrats.

Datamar suggested that Poizner’s strong Democratic support stemmed from Brown’s not being a formal candidate and an anybody-but-Whitman sentiment among Democrats. She got just 8.2 percent of the Democratic support responses.

And what about independents, who are roughly 20 percent of the electorate and whose votes are critical in any close election?

Datamar found that independents are all over the map, with 25.7 percent favoring Whitman, 20.7 percent opting for Brown and 15 percent preferring Poizner.

Mining the data even further, Datamar discovered that self-proclaimed lliberals lean toward Brown (36.5 percent), but by only a few percentage points over Poizner (30 percent), while Whitman garners just 4.5 percent.

Whitman (27.5 percent) shades Brown (26.3 percent) among moderates with Poizner trailing at 17.4 percent. But Whitman, at 60.2 percent, blows away both other candidates, with Poizner getting just 8.6 percent and Brown 7.1 percent.

The Datamar poll indicated that California’s sour economy could be the gubernatorial contest’s overriding issue with 36 percent of respondents citing that as the state’s most important problem, followed by state budget cuts at 18.4 percent, jobs at 17.8 percent and immigration at 15.4 percent.

The three candidates are virtually tied among voters who cited the economy as the state’s most important issue, all in the mid-20 percent range.

There are sharp demographic differences in support for the three candidates. Brown wins male voters at 35.6 percent, while Whitman is tops among women atr 26.6 percent.

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