California Legislature’s approval rating hits record low

From a Times Staff Writer

The Legislature’s standing among the public has sunk to record depths -- with an approval rating now in single digits -- as billionaire Republican Meg Whitman has taken the lead in the race for governor, according to a new poll by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

The statewide survey, conducted March 9-16, found that just 9% of likely voters approve of the job the Legislature is doing. Its findings on the governor’s race, similar to those of a Field Poll released earlier in the week, are that Whitman, who has spent tens of millions of dollars saturating the airwaves with campaign ads, now has the support of 61% of likely GOP primary voters.

Her lead over her Republican opponent, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, has grown to 50 points.

The PPIC survey has a margin of error of 2.5%.

The poll also found that Whitman now has the edge in a potential matchup with Democratic candidate Jerry Brown. She has the support of 44% of all likely voters, with 39% supporting Brown and the rest undecided.

In addition, the poll found the race for U.S. Senate tightening up. On the Republican side, former Rep. Tom Campbell is in a virtual dead heat with former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina. Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine trails the two.

Both Campbell and Fiorina were deadlocked with incumbent Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, in a potential November matchup. DeVore trailed Boxer by six percentage points.

In another finding, a large majority of likely voters -- 69% -- say U.S. immigration policy needs major reform. In similarly large numbers, they say immigrants who have been working and living in the United States for two years should be allowed to keep their jobs and get on the path toward citizenship.

At the same time, a large minority -- 25% -- believe such immigrants should be deported.