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CALIFORNIA ELECTIONS

Gov. keeps big lead over Angelides, poll finds

Respondents lean toward approving four of five bond measures. Prop. 84 falls short.

October 26, 2006|Michael Finnegan and Peter Nicholas | Times Staff Writers

MONTEREY — State Treasurer Phil Angelides has failed to narrow Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's double-digit lead in the contest for governor, and Californians are leaning toward approval of all but one of the $43 billion in bond measures on the state's Nov. 7 ballot, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The findings by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California came as Schwarzenegger campaigned for the bond issues in Monterey, the Santa Barbara area and San Pedro, while Angelides lashed out at the governor outside a fire station in Sacramento.

The poll found that Proposition 84, a $5.4-billion package of water and conservation projects, fell short of majority support, but four other bond measures -- Propositions 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E -- were each favored by more than 50%, the threshold for passage.

The Republican governor, who has stressed the environment in his reelection ads, campaigned for Proposition 84 for the first time Wednesday at the Monterey Aquarium and a San Pedro park, both scenic sites meant to convey the stakes involved on the November ballot. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat also seeking reelection, plans to stump for the measure today in San Francisco.

In the race for governor, the poll found Schwarzenegger leading Angelides by 48% to 30% -- statistically unchanged from the institute's survey last month.

Angelides continues to suffer from lackluster support among Democrats despite his recent moves to spur enthusiasm among voters in his own party, according to the poll.

He has pledged to demand the return of California National Guard troops from the war in Iraq. He has hammered Schwarzenegger for supporting President Bush's reelection in 2004. And he has run a TV ad telling viewers he was inspired to enter politics by the drive to dump another Republican president, Richard Nixon.

Yet the poll found that just 57% of Democrats back Angelides. Even in the Bay Area, the state's most solidly Democratic stronghold, Schwarzenegger has pulled slightly ahead of his challenger.

By contrast, Schwarzenegger held 86% of the Republican vote. Independents, a crucial swing group, favored Schwarzenegger over Angelides by 43% to 24%.

Campaigning with 100 firefighters holding Angelides signs in Sacramento, the treasurer said his bad poll numbers reflected a barrage of dishonest Schwarzenegger ads financed through a "special-interest pig-fest."

"The people have some innate sense that this is not a man who can be trusted," he said. "And I believe in the end, people in the state will go with someone they know in their gut will stand with them and their kids in the toughest of times."

Angelides also renewed his push to tie Schwarzenegger to Bush, saying the governor borrows his campaign tactics from Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist.

"If you've turned on the TV, if you've opened your own mailbox, you'll see a record inundation of deceptive advertising right out of Karl Rove's playbook," Angelides said.

Schwarzenegger, whose ads portray Angelides as obsessed with tax hikes, dithering on crime and slack on the environment, ignored his rival as he campaigned along the coast Wednesday.

Outside the Monterey Aquarium, Schwarzenegger cast himself as a champion of the environment -- one of the main issues he has used to court moderate voters who dominate the state's coastal areas. With the crashing waves of Monterey Bay as his backdrop, he touted the coastal cleanup projects that Proposition 84 would finance.

"This is an extremely important proposition," he said before touring the aquarium, where he gazed at sharks and tuna swimming in a giant tank.

The $5.4 billion in Proposition 84 spending would include projects to cut storm-water pollution, restore rivers, acquire parkland, conserve forests and enhance drinking-water safety.

In San Pedro, Schwarzenegger chose another picturesque setting to tout the measure: Fort MacArthur, a wind-swept outcropping with a panoramic ocean view.

The event's one spoiler was state Democratic Party spokesman Jeff Millman, who reminded the media that Schwarzenegger had vetoed a bill to reduce port air pollution.

The poll found likely voters split on Proposition 84, with 42% in favor and 43% opposed.

Taken Oct. 15 to 22, the poll surveyed 1,076 likely voters. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In Summerland, just south of Santa Barbara, Schwarzenegger promoted the other bond measures -- 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E -- at a Highway 101 onramp construction site.

The measures would finance construction projects for transportation, housing, schools and levees, respectively.

The governor used the Summerland stop to tout the bipartisan cooperation that led to his agreement with state lawmakers to put the $37.2-billion package on the ballot.

"You will see, by the time this year is over, everyone in this country will be looking at California as the perfect example of how things can get done," he said.

The poll found each of the bond measures leading: transportation, 51% to 38%; housing, 56% to 34%; schools, 51% to 39%; and levees, 53% to 36%.

But the survey also found that 58% of likely voters thought the $43-billion price of all the bond proposals combined was too much.

michael.finnegan@latimescom

peter.nicholas@latimes.com

Times staff writers Scott Martelle and Nancy Wride contributed to this report.

For exclusive Web features, including the new Political Muscle blog, go to latimes.com/californiapolitics.

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