December 17th, 2009
12:49 PM ET
7 months ago

Whitman leads GOP rivals, new poll says

(CNN) – With less than six months until primary day in California, a new poll indicates GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman leads her Republican rivals, but slightly trails probable Democratic candidate Jerry Brown.

The Public Policy Institute of California survey, released late Thursday night, also suggests that most people in the Golden State are not paying much attention to campaign politics, with only 10 percent of likely voters watching the governors race "very closely" right now.

According to the poll, 32 percent of likely Republican primary voters are backing Whitman, the former eBay CEO, a billionaire with national party connections, and an adviser and surrogate last year for John McCain's presidential campaign. The survey indicates that former Rep. Tom Campbell is 20 points back at 12 percent, with 8 percent supporting State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. But more than 4 out of ten are undecided.

In a hypothetical general election matchup, the poll indicates Brown, the state's sitting attorney general and former two-term governor from 1975 to 1983, has a 6 point lead over Whitman. Brown, who has yet to declare his candidacy for governor, leads Campbell by 12 and Poizner by 16 points in possible matchups next year. About one in five voters are undecided in the general election matchups.

California's current governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is term limited and prevented from running for re-election next year. According to the survey, Schwarzenegger's approval rating as governor has hit a new low: 27 percent. But that's 10 points higher than the approval rating for the State Legislature, which matches their all time low of 17 percent back in July.

The survey suggests California voters continue to be extremely frustrated over the state's budget, which is projected to be nearly $21 billion in the red over the next year and a half.

The Public Policy of California poll was conducted December 1-8, with 2,004 adult state residents questioned by telephone. The survey has a sampling error of 3 percentage points for all likely voters and 5 percentage points for likely Republican primary voters.

– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Whitman = California's Sarah Palin

    December 17, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Jim

    Ms. Whitman has been running constant radio/TV ads paid for by herself, so she has higher name recognition than her Republican rivals. We Californians have had enough of of these entrepreneur outsiders with no political experience, voting record or knowledge of our state's system! No candidate on the horizon can match the credentials, experience and ethical compass of Jerry Brown, one of our most distinguished former governors!

    December 17, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. Vets4Obama

    We've already seen what happens when republicans govern the once great state of California. Look no further then their retarded handling and incompetence, our government often shut down.

    Republican Governors are the surest way to ruin a state.

    December 17, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Based on Meg's past participation in elections, I am confident she won't even vote for herself. By not taking part in democracy, I can see why the anti government republicans support her.

    December 17, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    But the real question is, "Is she a true Tea Bagger?"

    December 17, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. S. Smith

    My husband and I are supporting Meg Whitman and we live in Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger was elected to clean up Gray Davis's mess, but he will be leaving California with an even bigger deficit. He couldn't stop the big tax and spend Democratic state legislators. Everything is upside down in this state and Californians need to wake up. We need a fiscal conservative like Meg Whitman to get us back on track. So long as she doesn't get bullied by the Democrats in Sacramento!

    December 17, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Republicans is smart in the head area

    She'll lose to Jerry Brown by 22 points after she hits the campaign trail...

    December 17, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. jack

    Just the thing Ca. needs, another republican billionaire sitting in Sacramento. NOT! This woman is Sarah Palin with a brain. But still has the face of "revenge" hidden under her mask.

    Remember the old saying...."a woman scorned", wait till a politician deals with her and crosses her.

    December 17, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Bob Pacific Grove, Ca

    No republican except Tom Campbell stands a chance in this state after two terms of the Dumbonator.......Couple this with Whitman's indifference to cast her votes in recent elections at the ballot box and voila.....A DEM LANDSLIDE..........

    December 17, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  10. katiec

    Is this the same woman who admitted she has never voted??
    Wow!

    December 17, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "but trails probable Democratic candidate Jerry Brown."

    What? Did the GOP fail to ship her their standard-issue corporate wh-re kneepads?

    December 17, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. T'SAH from Virginia

    It does not matter how the REPUKES are fighting – one of them will still lose against Brown!!!

    December 17, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Didn't Jerry Brown make a big enough mess of California the last time he was Governor?

    I can't believe people would actually let him do it again.

    December 17, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Debbie

    From California and I don't doubt that many in the poll show Whitman leads the GOP candidates. She has a ton of money and the backing of the national GOP.

    Still for me she is a non-candidate. And here are the reasons why:

    1. Absolutely the unforgivable for me is she has rarely voted in US elections. She said she was too busy raising her children. Our most sacred duty as citizens is to vote. That is our form of government and Whitman and apparently the GOP don't believe in our form of government any more. There is no excuse she can give that would be acceptable. From the Revolutionary War till today our men and women have shed their blood for US citizens right to vote. Shame on Whitman and shame on the GOP.

    2. Whitman touts her being a CEO of Ebay In that vein, yet fails to mention the companyies marked slowdown in growth lost stock value. California cannot afford anymore slowdowns or lost stock values. Whitman will aution off California on Ebay if the people fall for her shame.

    3. Whitman "claims" she is for expansion of employment, control of state government spending and improvement in the quality of public education. a) EVERY poltician says the same thing. Swartzenegger did that and look at where CA is today! b) She will cut state spending? Will she cut it from her cabinet? From her appointments? We have a revenue problem not a cutting problem. Does she really think she is the first person to think of cuts? c.) Where on earth does she think "she" can expand jobs?

    4) Poizner also has a ton of money and would sell his soul if not his wealth to be in power of anything.

    5) Best and most qualified candidate is Cambell but he doesn't have the money or the GOP backing. Silly guy is a professor of economics, has been in California politics, and oh as a citizen he has voted!

    Which by the way will be the same problem with Failed Fiornina. She too has never voted, HP board voted her out, and she sent thousands of California jobs to India/China.

    So if the GOP loses to Brown it will not be because so many followed Brown but the GOP hand selected Whitman and Fiorina and not the right GOP candidates.

    December 17, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Jamie

    As is all too natural in politics, Campbell, the best person for the job, has no cash, no panache, therefore gets little attention compared to the wealthy bloviators.

    December 17, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  16. Jane/Seattle

    Things Can Change in a Hurry! Where is the new blood? Oh, California is a Mess! Who wants to really tackle this one? Calling true leaders to come forward to help California Make Some Real Change! I am SO surprised that this state is so broke what with all the Big Money folks sucking up the Commons down there! Forgot so few want to pay for what they use and lawyers make a killing everywhere! Just demonize a few brown folks and all will be well! Cmon, Jerry, One more time!

    December 17, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  17. Barbara from Canada

    Gerry Brown is the man for Governor of California – again! This is a good man with a great history with the state. Let Whitman do what she does best... equating California to e-bay does not compute.

    December 17, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Willy Brown

    You all old in Californy re elect Jerry Brown again then you deserve to Bankrupt!

    December 17, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. GOP oppression victim

    The last thing CA needs is another Republican governor. Jerry Brown has the guts to make some big changes and fix this awful mess.

    December 17, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  20. Weenie Brown

    Whitman is an outsider to the voting process, and that makes her qualified. Oh, I almost forgot, tax cuts for the wealthy.

    December 17, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |