December 16, 2009 | 9:00 pm
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating has dropped to a new low as Californians continue to worry about the economy and the state’s dismal finances, according to a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California.
The poll found that just 27% of Californians approve of the job the governor is doing — a career low for Schwarzenegger in the institute’s surveys. The Legislature also remains unpopular, with approval from just 17% of Californians, matching a record low in July.
More than 60% of respondents said the economy and jobs topped their list of concerns. State budget problems were the second most cited worry, with 13% calling the budget the most important issue facing the state. Answering a separate question, 88% said the state’s budget situation was a big problem.
The poll also asked about the 2010 gubernatorial race. Most people indicated that they were paying little attention to it and had scant enthusiasm for the candidates. Only 10% of likely voters were closely following the race, the survey found, and only 32% were satisfied with their choice of candidates.
The front-runner in the GOP primary is former EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman, with 32% of likely primary voters favoring her. Former Rep. Tom Campbell had support from 12% of likely GOP voters, and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner had 8% support.
The front-runner on the Democratic side is state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, who has no major competition for the nomination. In a potential November match-up, Brown led Whitman among all likely voters, 43% to 37%.
The institute surveyed 2,004 adults by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
— Evan Halper in Sacramento