Man Without Qualities

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Halfway Poll

At the halfway point in this year’s general election campaign for California Governor, incumbent Democrat Gray Davis holds a seven-point lead among likely voters – 41% to 34% – over Republican Bill Simon, according to the latest Field Poll.

Which means that Davis’ lead has now been halved. In April Davis was leading Simon by fourteen points – 43% to 29%. Worse for Davis, the poll's sampling error is 4.0 percentage points - so his 7 point lead is now within that error margin.

Davis has acquired an enormous campaign fund, which, curiously, appears to be generating some of his larger problems. Davis' huge appetite for campaign money has led to various corruption suspicions against him that seem to be helping to drag him down. There are now several of these scandals brewing in connection with Davis, and Simon has not yet systematically focused on them as a campaign issue.

Davis has other issues, of course, including signing up for wildly overpriced long-term power contracts which the State has been renegotiating with only modest success. It's hot now in California, and people are paying for major doses of power under those contracts.

Just 39% say they have a favorable view of Davis and 28% say this for Simon. In contrast, 51% of likely voters have an unfavorable opinion of Davis, as do 39% in regard to Simon. The proportion rating Davis unfavorably has been 50% or more in each of four Field Poll measures conducted this year, where Simon's unfavorability rating has been steadily rising - a trend helped in part by a barrage of hostile Davis ads.

A potentially huge wildcard in this election is the State budget, which is now stalled. The California constitution requires a 2/3 vote in the legislature to pass the nearly $100 Billion budget, which is now running severely in the red.

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