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Whitman’s lead shrinks, but by how much?

Gone are the days when GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman enjoyed a nearly 50-point lead in the polls. She is finding that she can no longer ignore state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, her main rival in next month’s election.

Various polls show that he has eroded her lead substantially in recent weeks, though how much he has gained is in dispute. Large, established polls haven’t been in the field in weeks, but analysts generally agree that Poizner is within striking distance.

Last week, Poizner’s campaign announced that a survey it commissioned showed Whitman’s lead at 10 points. Whitman’s strategists said her margin had indeed shrunk, but not that much — though they declined to say how much, only that she had Poizner at “double digit” distance.

Survey USA, an independent group that conducts polls through automated calls in the voice of a “professional announcer,” said this week that Whitman’s lead had shrunk to 2 points, 39% to 37%. The organization’s reliability has been questioned by more traditional pollsters, but the company has successfully forecast numerous major elections.

evan.halper@latimes.com


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