LOS ANGELES — Voters in California favor Vice President Al Gore over Texas Gov. George Bush by 7 percentage points in the race for president, according to a statewide poll published Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times.
Gore once held a double-digit lead in California, which is a crucial state politically because it controls 54 of the 270 electoral votes needed for the presidency. A poll released Monday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California also showed Gore’s lead over Bush shrinking from 9 to 5 points since last month.
The Times poll found that Gore held a broad edge over Bush among women in the state and is only narrowly behind among men, which contradicts the national trends that have made the overall race a dead heat.
The 48 percent to 41 percent lead for Gore comes despite a $6 million ad campaign waged by the Republican Party on Bush’s behalf.
The poll found that Gore maintains strong connections in California, with 62 percent of the voters registering a positive impression of him, while only 37 percent have a negative view. Voters’ impressions of Bush are negative, with 51 percent expressing an unfavorable impression and only 46 percent a positive one.
“California voters firmly believe that the nation and the state are going in the right direction, and these voters say they will back Gore,” said Susan Pinkus, director of the Times Poll. “It all hinges on turnout.”
Four of five California voters believe Gore has the intellect and experience to be president, a majority so large that it includes many Bush voters.
In Bush’s case, voters are ambivalent, with 47 percent saying he has enough experience and intellect, but 42 percents believe he does not.
The Times poll interviewed 1,304 Californians, including 852 likely voters, from Thursday through Monday and has a margin of sampling error for likely voters of plus or minus 4 percentage points.