A news release from Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's campaign this morning confirmed what news reports have been suggesting, that rival Steve Poizner is slashing her lead, which had been as high as about 50 percentage points.
Campaign internal polling by the firm McLaughlin & Associates found that Whitman's advantage had shrunk to 31 points among likely Republican primary voters, with Whitman receiving 55 percent of respondents' support to Poizner's 24 percent, according to a memo from firm CEO John McLaughlin released by the campaign. Some news reports had found that other internal polls showed Whitman's lead shrinking to 20 points.
The McLaughlin poll had a margin of error of four percentage points.
The shift follows weeks of radio and TV ads from Poizner, much of which has attacked Whitman supposedly for being too liberal. Whitman has also been running her own ads criticizing Poizner and highlighting her policy positions.
In the memo, McLaughlin noted that the internal poll finds Poizner's negative ratings have risen and concludes, "It seems that the Republican primary voters already know that Steve Poizner can't win."
"So with only weeks to go," the memo continues, "it seems very evident that Steve Poizner can neither stop Meg Whitman nor raise his own popularity to any level where he can make the case that he has any remote chance to win. As the primary date nears and early voting accelerates, the only real outcome is that Meg Whitman will win the Republican primary for Governor."
Poizner spokesman Jarrod Agen shot back in a written statement:
"Meg Whitman's candidacy was always like one of those French soufflés one of her private chefs would cook up on her private jet -- full of expensive air and destined to deflate. All of Meg's Goldman Sachs riches can't convince California Republicans that we need a Barbara Boxer supporter as our nominee. The numbers are moving as we expected, which means in this year's general election Republicans will finally get a chance to vote for a Republican for governor."