(CNN) – Meg Whitman's very large lead over Steve Poizner in the battle for the California Republican gubernatorial nomination has dramatically shrunk, according to a new poll.
A Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey released early Thursday morning indicates that 38 percent of likely GOP primary voters back Whitman, a former eBay CEO who served as an adviser and surrogate for Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, with 29 percent backing California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. A large number of voters, 31 percent, are undecided.
Whitman's nine point advantage is down from a 50 point lead in a PPIC poll conducted in March.
Poizner has attacked Whitman in recent weeks with a barrage of commercials questioning her conservative credentials, her poor voting record, and her links to Goldman Sachs.
One ad claimed Whitman would prolong unpopular Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's policies, making that point by showing an image of the governor's face morphing into Whitman's image. Another ad attacked Whitman on the hot topic of illegal immigration and border security, saying that "she supports Obama's amnesty plan."
The billionaire, who so far has spent more than $60 million of her own money on her campaign, is firing back with a new commercial that labels Poizner a Sacramento politician. In the ad she says she'll clean up the mess he's made, and she states that "on immigration, I will secure our border and I'll send in the national guard if necessary. I say no drivers licenses, no sanctuary cities and absolutely no amnesty, period."
The Republican winner in the June 8 primary will most likely face off in the general election against state Attorney General Jerry Brown. The former two-term governor is the presumptive Democratic nominee.
According to the survey, Brown leads Whitman 42 to 37 percent in a hypothetical general election matchup, with one in five undecided. Brown tops Poizner 45 to 32 percent, with 23 percent undecided.
In the fight for California's Republican Senate nomination, the poll indicates that 25 percent of likely GOP primary voters back former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, with 23 percent supporting former Rep. Tom Campbell and 16 percent pulling for state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Fiorina and Campbell were also deadlocked in PPIC's March poll. DeVore, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, has doubled his support since March, according to the survey.
The winner will face off in November against three-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. According to the survey, Boxer leads Campbell by six points, Fiorina by nine points, and DeVore by 11 points, in possible general election showdowns.
The poll also indicates than six in 10 of likely California primary voters back a ballot measure that aims to dramatically alter the state's primary process. Less than three in ten say they would vote against the measure, which would allow all voters to cast ballots for any candidate in a primary, regardless of party affiliation. The proposed measure calls for the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election.
The PPIC poll was conducted May 9-16, with 2,003 California adults questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus two percentage points, and plus or minus five percentage points for questions directed only to likely Republican primary voters.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
I don't want either of thenm in office but its nice to see her millions aren't buying her the election here in California.
We have benn bombarded with ads for a year and for the last 6 months nothing but negatives.
We need change – from the cmapiagns on up.
Meg may have to spend her $150 million just to get past the primary.
I would never vote for this twit, hundred of thousands have paid the highest price to allow her the freedom to vote, and she thinks so little of that sacrifice that she has not voted in decades.
How do you look into the face of one of the Mother's whose son died to allow you to vote and say, "I was too busy getting a latte at Starbucks to vote"? My latte means more to me than your son's life.
Now she wants to run the government she has shown no interest in participating in?
Rand Paul wasn't able to answer one question about policy or what his plan for change in Washington was when John King interviewed him yesterday. But yet he invited President Obama "to bring it on" and come to Kentucky and meet with him, what a joke and he should be embarrassed that he has dooped people into voting for him.
There's no difference between her and him, both are incapable of dealing with the problems California and Americans of California face; this is a State in disarray, thanks to the radical leftists there.
When she promised to cut State worker's jobs, she already lost.
It doesn't matter who wins the Republican nomination, Brown will beat them both. I'm from California and wouldn't vote for either of them.
Whitman ... "who served as an adviser and surrogate for Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign,..."
A surrogate? Does that mean that she appeared as McCain at campaign functions? I guess she does look a little bit like him.
Poizner's campaign has almost entirely focused on the issue of illegal immigration (he favors an Arizona-type crackdown), and his jump in the polls at the same time the Arizona law is creating so much discussion should be a sign that we in California are sick of the illegal aliens sucking our taxpayer dollars dry.