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Whitman Surges Back To Sizable Lead

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The following Story comes courtesy of California Watch

By Lance Williams

Two weeks before the primary, the Republican contest for governor is a blowout again, with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman surging to a 27-point lead, 54-27, over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

That's according to SurveyUSA, the same pollster that, two weeks ago, reported that the GOP race was a dead heat, with Poizner trailing by two points and Whitman seemingly on her way to squandering what had once been a 50-point lead.

So SurveyUSA, which did the polling for four California television stations, has the contest swinging wildly toward Poizner, and then wildly back toward Whitman, all in less than a month.

"It's obviously a volatile race," SurveyUSA CEO Jay Leve said in a phone interview last night. "I was as surprised as you are."

But he said it's interesting to note that the poll showed that Whitman isn't the only female candidate coming on strong in the final days of the GOP primary.

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who in other polls was neck and neck with former Rep. Tom Campbell, has opened up a 23-point lead, 46 to 23, in this one.

Perhaps Poizner's fierce attack ads are backfiring, Leve said. (Poizner has pilloried Whitman for her association with the Goldman Sachs investment bank, among other things.)

Perhaps also, Republican voters were toying with the notion of voting for Poizner and now are backing away. It's happened before: Leve recalled the 1992 presidential race, when far more Republicans said they would vote for independent Ross Perot than actually did so.

California Republicans may have said to themselves, "'Let me look at Poizner' - they're not sure they want Meg Whitman to coast to a win," he said. But in the past two weeks, Poizner "doesn't close the sale," and Republicans are returning to Whitman, he suggested.

Last week's Public Policy Institute of California poll said that while Whitman's support had eroded badly, she still held a nine-point lead, 38 to 29. As the Los Angeles Times reported, there's a diffference in methods between SurveyUSA and other polls: SurveyUSA is a robocall poll and thus cannot query cell phone users.

Two more major polls - the Field Poll and the USC/LA Times - are expected in the race's closing days. Then on June 8 is the only poll that counts.

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