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Obama widens lead over Romney in California, Field Poll finds

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 19, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

Bolstered by a bounce from his party's convention and perhaps more confidence in the nation's direction, President Barack Obama has extended his lead over Mitt Romney in California, according to a new poll.

The Field Poll, co-sponsored by the Institute of Governmental Studies at University of California, Berkeley, found Obama leading Romney by 24 points – 58 percent to 34 percent – among Californians likely to vote in the Nov. 6 election. In July, Obama led 55 percent to 37 percent.

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo pointed out that much has happened since the July survey: Romney officially clinched the nomination, chose Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate and was feted at the Republican National Convention.

"Yet his standing with voters has not improved," DiCamillo said. "If anything it's declined a little bit, while Obama has improved."

In Democrat-heavy California, Obama leads Romney among every age group, race, gender and education level. He leads in every region except for the Central Valley, where the two candidates are locked at 48 percent.

The latest survey was taken after both parties held their conventions, and DiCamillo noted that Obama may have benefited more from the Democrats' meeting in Charlotte, N.C., than Romney did from the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.

At the same time, the poll found that Californians' confidence in the direction of the country has improved dramatically since the July survey.

A majority of 52 percent now believe the nation is headed in the right direction, with 41 percent believing it's on the wrong track.

In July, the numbers were nearly reversed – by a 51 percent to 35 percent margin California voters said the nation was off on the wrong track.

DiCamillo said the trend has appeared in other recent national polls. But he noted positive marks increased in the last half of interviews done for the California poll because they were conducted after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

Poll respondents often respond positively toward their leaders and their nation after a tragedy, DiCamillo said, because the event is seen as a rallying cry and leaders are placed in situations that draw positive attention.

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