Politics & Government

Poll: Jerry Brown widens lead over Meg Whitman

With less than a week left before Election Day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has opened a 10-percentage-point lead over Republican Meg Whitman on the strength of growing support from Latinos, women and independent voters, according to the latest Field Poll released Wednesday.

The nonpartisan survey also found Whitman's window for catching Brown is closing, as more than a fifth of likely voters already have mailed in their ballots.

Brown's surge broke a statistical deadlock that has gripped the two candidates since March, when Whitman appeared to be winning over more Latino and female voters than Republicans usually do.

That support washed away over the past month, however, as voters received an unvarnished view of the candidates in three televised debates, at Tuesday's women's conference and in their handling of surprise campaign controversies.

Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of online auction firm eBay, ended the month as the loser, with 51 percent of likely voters holding an unfavorable view of her in the new poll, compared to just 12 percent who felt that way in March 2009.

Brown, a former governor who is the state's attorney general, was viewed unfavorably by 47 percent of likely voters in the new poll.

"Whitman is the new candidate, the new person, and she's the one who had to introduce herself to voters," said Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo.

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