Ad campaign lifts Whitman into tie with Brown


SACRAMENTO, Calif. | Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman find themselves tied in their race for California governor, but voters have grown increasingly disenchanted with both candidates, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

In results showing recent gains for the Republican, Mr. Brown has support from 44 percent of likely voters, compared with 43 percent for Ms. Whitman, but the difference is well within the Field Poll’s margin of error.

In what is likely to be one of the nation’s most expensive and closely watched gubernatorial bouts this fall, the poll shows 40 percent have an unfavorable impression of Mr. Brown, the state attorney general and former governor, up from 32 percent in January.

Since she won the primary, Ms. Whitman has released television ads that are playing continuously throughout the state, one promoting her vision for California’s future and another characterizing Mr. Brown‘s first tenure as governor in the 1970s and early 1980s as a failure.

Mr. Brown has yet to release any of his own advertisements, which has wounded the candidate, said the poll’s director, Mark DiCamillo.

“You’re watching TV, you’re picking up messages that are positive for Whitman and negative for Brown,” Mr. DiCamillo said. “His image rating could go down further if the advertising continues without any answer.”

While Mr. Brown is doing no advertising of his own, independent groups aligned with unions have been airing anti-Whitman television commercials.

Ms. Whitman‘s image also suffered during a bruising Republican primary campaign, when she endured attacks from her former opponent, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Mr. Brown faced only nominal opposition on the Democratic side, but his free ride in the race is clearly over.

The Field Poll found that 42 percent of voters had an unfavorable impression of Ms. Whitman, the former CEO of online auction giant eBay. That’s up from 20 percent in January, when many voters had not yet formed an opinion of her.

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