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USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll: Whitman Ads Make Inroads in Governor's Race

Senator Boxer ahead of Republican opponent

Contact USC Media Relations 24/7 at (213) 740-2215 or


TODAY, 10:30 a.m. PST: A phone conference discussing results of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll. Domestic call-in number: (800) 230-1093

LOS ANGELES, April 5, 2010 -- Meg Whitman's massive ad buy appears to be paying off among voters, reveal new findings from the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll.

An overwhelming majority (72%) of registered voters who have seen Whitman's ads back her against California State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. In contrast, only 38 percent of registered voters who have not seen Whitman's ads support her in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

In the general election for governor, 53 percent of voters who have seen Whitman's ads support her over likely Democratic opponent Jerry Brown, compared to 33 percent of voters who have not seen a Whitman ad.

Sixty-five of registered voters remember seeing an advertisement for a gubernatorial or Senate candidate in the last few months. Of this percentage, 75 percent specifically remember seeing an advertisement for Whitman, compared to 47 percent for Poizner.


Whitman, the former eBay executive, holds a significant lead among registered voters in the Republican primary. Sixty percent of registered Republicans say they plan to vote for Whitman, the former eBay executive, compared to 20 percent for Poizner. Whitman has already spent more on her campaign than any other state candidate in history, reportedly more than $46 million.

Against Brown, California attorney general and former governor, Whitman leads 44 to 41 percent among all registered voters polled. Thirteen percent of voters are undecided.

Whitman's ads have positioned her as a business executive who could bring strong management to California's problems, and the latest poll reflects changing voter attitudes about candidates' work experience. Forty percent of Californians polled now say it is more important for a gubernatorial candidate to have business experience than to have political experience. Thirty-five percent believed the reverse.

By a slight margin, Republican voters said they preferred a centrist candidate with appeal to independent voters over a conservative candidate who could motivate Republicans. Forty-six percent preferred a centrist candidate, compared to 42 percent in favor of a conservative candidate.


Brown's favorability rating remains virtually unchanged from where it stood in November 2009, with 41 percent of registered voters polled giving him a favorable rating and 28 percent an unfavorable rating. Whitman's favorability over the same period increased from 17 percent to 30 percent, but the percentage of registered voters who have an unfavorable impression of her also increased, from 14 percent to 23 percent.

Since November, the percentage of registered voters who said they had not heard enough about Whitman to have an impression, either favorable or unfavorable, fell from 60 percent to 39 percent.

Poll organizers said there is some indication that Whitman's lead over Brown will grow as her "name ID" continues to creep up. Among voters who can identify both candidates by name, Whitman's lead is a much larger – at 51 to 43 percent.

The race among voters registered as "decline-to-state" is a dead-heat (39 percent for Brown, 40 for Whitman).


U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer leads against an unnamed Republican challenger, with 48 percent of registered voters saying they would vote for her against a Republican candidate (34%).

Boxer's approval rating has dipped slightly in recent months. Forty percent of those polled approve of Boxer's job performance and 38 percent disapprove, compared to 43 percent approval and 36 percent disapproval in November. Boxer's favorability rating among voters is higher than her job approval, but has also fallen, from 49 percent favorable five months ago to 46 percent now, according to the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll.

The Republican Senate primary race remains a toss-up between former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina and former Congressman Tom Campbell, with more voters reporting they are undecided (31%) than saying they would support Campbell (29%) or Fiorina (25%). California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore was far behind with 9 percent of voters saying they would support him.

For Media: TODAY, 10:30 a.m. PST. A phone conference discussing the results of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll with political analysts from USC and the Los Angeles Times. Call-in numbers: United States: (800) 230-1093; International: (612) 332-0107.

TWITTER: @usclatpoll

About the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: The USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll project is a series of six statewide public opinion polls that began November 8, 2009, and will continue throughout California's crucial 2010 elections for governor and U.S. Senate.

These polls will be taken at regular intervals and will be designed to survey California residents' attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues to better inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.

About USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences: USC College of Letters, Art & Sciences is the university's primary center for research and education in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. The largest of USC's 19 academic schools, USC College is composed of more than 30 academic departments and more than 20 Ph.D. programs, and is home to more than two dozen research centers and institutes.

About the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.


Contact USC Media Relations 24/7 at (213) 740-2215 or