GOP candidates losing ground with Calif. voters

Voters’ growing dissatisfaction with Republican incumbents is evident in California.

A new poll by the highly regarded Rasmussen polling firm shows Phil Angelides, Democratic candidate for governor, starting to close the gap with Republican incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger. The poll, taken before new Angelides and union-sponsored ads hit TV screens, showed 40 percent of likely voters favoring Angelides, to 49 percent for Schwarzenegger. Previous polls had shown a gap of up to 17 percent. Analysts point out that despite big spending on ads, the governor has been unable to break 49 percent.

Another new survey, of “Spanish-dominant” likely voters in Southern California, found Angelides leading Schwarzenegger by 64 percent to 21 percent. Spanish-dominant Latinos account for about 10 percent of California voters, while Latinos as a whole account for about 18 percent. The Bendixen and Associates poll was conducted in three counties that are more Republican than other parts of the state.

Polls also held good news for Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, who seeks to replace longtime Republican incumbent Richard Pombo as U.S. Representative from northern California’s 11th Congressional District. A new Lake Research Partners survey of likely voters showed Pombo at 41 percent and McNerney at 40 percent. When each candidate received a positive introduction, McNerney surged ahead, 49 percent to 39 percent. McNerney has been endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle, Modesto Bee and San Jose Mercury News, while the Los Angeles Times editorialized that Pombo is one of two “Congressmen we could do without.”

In another northern California race, Democratic challenger Charlie Brown is benefiting from reports confirming that the Justice Department is investigating 4th CD Republican incumbent John Doolittle in the ongoing probe of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s bribery of members of Congress. The Washington Post cited lawyers and witnesses as confirming that Doolittle is targeted in the ongoing investigation in which eight Republican leaders and staffers have pleaded guilty. Brown has also been endorsed by the San Jose Mercury News, as well as the Sacramento Bee and Modoc County Record.