By Susan Ferriss
Published: Saturday, Sep. 25, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 4A
Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado trails San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in his bid to win a full term, according to a Field Poll released Friday.
The poll also found the GOP nominee for attorney general, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, with a narrow edge over his Democratic rival, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.
The wild card in both races is that large proportions of voters aren’t familiar with the candidates and are still undecided, said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo. Conducted Sept. 14-21, the survey found 26 percent of respondents undecided on the lieutenant governor’s race and 34 percent on attorney general.
Maldonado, who took office in April after being appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, trails Newsom by four points – 39 percent to 35 percent. He was nine points down in Field’s July survey.
Given that Democratic registration is higher in California and Newsom is far better known than Maldonado, “you would expect him to be more ahead,” DiCamillo said. “And he is ahead. But not by much.”
Eighty percent of likely voters surveyed said they knew of Newsom and could express an opinion of him. Opinion of him, however, was split – 39 percent viewed him favorably and 41 percent unfavorably.
Only 53 percent of respondents had an opinion of Maldonado, a former Santa Maria state senator who has cast himself as a moderate. But unlike Newsom, Maldonado enjoys a 2-to-1 positive rating, 36 percent to 17 percent.
Maldonado may have increased his profile in mid-September when, with Schwarzenegger traveling in Asia, he appeared in the media in the aftermath of the San Bruno gas line explosion, DiCamillo said.
“Newsom really needs to mine as many Democrats as possible – and independents,” DiCamillo said. “For Maldonado, on the other hand, he needs to get better known.”
For attorney general, Cooley leads Harris by four points – 35 percent to 31 percent – one point higher than Cooley’s lead in July.
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