On politics in the Golden State
October 22, 2010 | 3:00 pm

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, a Republican, holds a narrow lead over Democratic opponent Kamala Harris in the contentious race for California attorney general, aided greatly by voter support on his usually Democratic home turf, a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll has found.

The survey showed that Harris, the San Francisco district attorney, has thus far failed to captivate the Democratic stronghold of Los Angeles County, home to one out of every four registered voters in California and a near must-win for any Democrat running statewide.

Cooley, a veteran prosecutor seen largely as a moderate Republican, has won three D.A. elections in Los Angeles County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans almost two to one.

In the survey, Cooley held a 42%-33% advantage over Harris among likely voters in the county. Statewide, he had a 40%-35% edge among likely voters, according to the survey.

The biggest remaining wild card in the race is a large pool of undecided voters; 17% of the likely voters still have not made up their minds, the poll found — a common occurrence in the “down ballot” races. In the governor’s race, by comparison, only 4% of likely voters were undecided, according to the poll.

The survey has better news for another Bay Area Democrat: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom held a slight lead over Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a former state senator from Santa Maria appointed to the statewide office in April.

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