California Attorney General Jerry Brown leads all Republican challengers in an early look at the state's 2010 governor's race. But with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as the Democratic candidate, the three Republicans are competitive.
The latest Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 statewide telephone survey finds that Brown leads former eBay CEO Meg Whitman 44% to 35%. He holds a 45% to 32% advantage over State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and a 44% to 34% edge over Tom Campbell, an ex-congressman and former state finance director.
Brown served as governor of California from 1975 to 1983. Since then, he has been chairman of the California Democratic Party, mayor of Oakland and the state's attorney general. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, 1980, and 1992 and for the U.S. Senate in 1982.
Newsom is challenging Brown for the right to represent Democrats in the 2010 governor's race. All three Republican candidates hold a very modest edge over Newsom at this time, but if Newsom were to win the nomination, the political gravity of the state would likely give him a boost in the general election.
Currently, Whitman has the edge over Newsom 41% to 36%. Poizner leads the San Francisco mayor by a nearly identical 40% to 36% margin while Campbell is ahead 42% to 36%.
The fact that results are so similar regardless of which Republican candidate is mentioned suggests that the race at this point is all about the Democrats. That's not surprising given the solid Democratic nature of California. Data released last week shows that Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer leads two potential Republican challengers in her reelection bid but still falls below the 50% level that generally spells political safety for incumbents.
Brown is the best known of all the gubernatorial candidates and the only one to whom more than half the state's voters give a favorable rating. Overall, 53% have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the former governor. Those figures include 20% with a Very Favorable opinion and 24% with a Very Unfavorable view.
His Democratic challenger, Newsom, gets Very Favorable reviews from 11% while 30% offer a Very Unfavorable opinion. However, his negatives are driven up by Republican and unaffiliated voters. Just seven percent (7%) of Democrats have a Very Unfavorable opinion of him. That's close to the four percent (4%) of Democrats who say the same about Brown.
On the GOP side, Whitman is viewed Very Favorably by 12% of California voters and Very Unfavorably by 11%. The eBay billionaire has been put on the defensive because she has rarely voted in recent years and it's not clear whether she has ever registered to vote. She has pledged not to raise any taxes, saying, "We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem."
Poizner is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who says he would cut sales and income taxes by 10 percent. He also has said he would cut capital gains taxes by 50 percent. At this point in the campaign, eight percent (8%) have a Very Favorable opinion of Poizner while 12% have a Very Unfavorable view.
The third GOP hopeful, Campbell, refuses to rule out a tax hike. He has proposed a one-year, 32-cent gas tax. He is viewed Very Favorably by 12% statewide and Very Unfavorably by 15%.
At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.