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Polls show tight races for attorney general, lieutenant governor

October 30, 2010 | 10:34 am

Races for California attorney general and lieutenant governor appear to be tightening as election day nears and undecided voters start to finally make their picks, a Field Poll released Saturday shows.

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, a Republican, holds a narrow lead over Democratic opponent Kamala Harris, leading by a slim 39%-38% margin among likely voters in Tuesday’s election, compared with Cooley’s 37%-34% lead in July, the survey found. The pool of undecided voters was 19% statewide.

Among 21% of voters who already have submitted vote-by-mail ballots, Cooley had a 46% to 38% advantage over Harris. In Los Angeles County, home to one in four registered voters in California and a key battleground in the attorney general’s race, Harris held a 43%-37% edge over Cooley, according to the Field Poll.

The Los Angeles County results differ from a Times/USC poll released last week that found Cooley held a 42%-33% advantage over Harris among likely voters in Cooley’s home county. Statewide, Cooley had a 40%-35% edge in that survey.

The Field Poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 14-26 among a random sample of 1,501 registered voters, with an overall 3.2-point error margin.

The Times/USC poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 13-20 among a random sample of 1,501 California voters, with an overall 2.5-point error margin.

The Field Poll showed that in the lieutenant governor’s race, Democratic San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom holds a 42%-37% advantage over Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a former state senator from Santa Maria appointed to the statewide office in April. Newsom lead by a 43%-34% margin in July. The survey found that 14% of voters remained undecided. The survey showed that Maldonado has made inroads among fellow Latinos, voters who traditionally back Democrats.

Newsom still has 43%-37% advantage among likely Latino voters, the survey found, but more than a third of the Latinos polled backed Maldonado -- close to the level of support that political strategists say a Republican candidate needs to win statewide.

The Times/USC poll found that Newsom carried a 42%-37% advantage statewide, and a 42%-32% edge among Latino voters.

-- Phil Willon