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Poll shows top ticket races are still close

July 28, 2010 |  9:00 pm

With the campaigns in full swing over what are supposed to be lazy summer months, a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California finds the races for governor and U.S. Senate are both up for grabs.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown is leading his Republican opponent Meg Whitman, 37% to 34%. Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is ahead of Republican Carly Fiorina, 39% to 34%.

And although the candidates likely to say that jobs are priorities one, two and three for voters this year, it turns out that voters are paying attention to other issues too.

In both the governor’s race and the Senate race, 41% of voters said the candidate’s positions on the environment — including air pollution, global warming and energy policy — would be “very important” in determining their vote.

The poll also found nearly 60% of California residents now oppose more oil drilling off the state’s coast in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a survey released Wednesday. And despite a highly charged debate over whether the state’s climate change law, AB 32, will destroy or create jobs, support for the measure is holding steady from last year.

With a proposition on the ballot to suspend implementation of AB 32 until unemployment drops to 5.5%, those issues are likely to generate debate on the campaign trail this fall.

We’ve posted some intriguing findings from the survey by the Public Policy Institute of California — about whether Californians want the state to wait or take action “right away” on its plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — over at our Greenspace blog.

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles