Poll: Poizner surges in California governor's race
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner now trails Meg Whitman by just 10 percentage points in California governor's race, according to polling by his campaign.
For months, it has appeared that Republican billionaire Meg Whitman would be facing off against Democratic attorney general – and former governor – Jerry Brown in the California governor's race this fall.Skip to next paragraph
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Now, with just over a month to go before the Republican primary, Insurance Commissoner Steve Poizner has produced internal polling – from Public Opinion Strategies, the same firm that polled for Scott Brown in Massachusetts – that shows Ms. Whitman’s one-time lead of 48 percentage points has dropped to 10, and five outside all markets outside of San Francisco.
The poll of 800 likely primary voters, conducted this week, has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.
The Poizner campaign strategy from the beginning was to unload his message as close to the vote as possible. Mr. Poizner began running ads in mid-March, and this week hit Ms. Whitman on three fronts: An endorsement from popular state conservative Tom McClintock, a public debate on the issue of Arizona’s new immigration law, and the connection Whitman has to scandal-plagued Goldman Sachs.
The Whitman campaign did its best to downplay the poll’s findings. “Whatever they show … it’ll show a long road from whatever they’ve got him at to 50 percent and a victory in the general election,” Whitman campaign strategist Mike Murphy said in a call with reporters Wednesday. “We’re now in a debate over whether Steve Poizner will lose huge, lose medium, or lose a little tighter,” he said.
Whitman has been pounding the state with a reported $60 million in TV and radio ads, pushing the message that saving California requires running it “like a business.” That message may have backfired with arrival last month of the Goldman Sachs SEC probe, analysts say.
“Fortunately for Poizner, Whitman now seems somewhat embroiled in the Goldman Sachs scandal, which … seems to have given Poizner’s campaign a burst of energy,” says Jessica Levinson, political director for the Center for Governmental Studies. “Those who thought Poizner was out of the race are going to have to rethink their view of this now contentious gubernatorial primary fight.”