BOXER HAS BIG LEAD OVER POTENTIAL GOP SENATE CHALLENGERS IN FIELD POLL

BY KEVIN YAMAMURA

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer has a comfortable lead over potential Republican challengers for her job in 2010, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, though voters are divided in their enthusiasm for her re-election, according to a Field Poll released Thursday.

In a hypothetical matchup against Schwarzenegger, who will leave the Governor’s Office in January 2011, Democrat Boxer leads by 54 percent to 30 percent, the poll found. The Republican governor has never said publicly that he plans to run for another political office.

That marks a drop for Schwarzenegger from the October 2007 Field Poll, when the governor had a 44 percent to 43 percent advantage.

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“It’s his job performance rating, which is near his all-time low,” said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. “The budget delay didn’t win anybody any points.”

Boxer leads potential GOP candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, 55 percent to 25 percent. Fiorina spoke last month at the California Republican Party convention and last year at the Republican National Convention, though she has not announced her intentions regarding the Senate race.

In a hypothetical GOP primary, Schwarzenegger leads with 31 percent support, followed by Fiorina at 24 percent and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, at 9 percent. Without Schwarzenegger, Fiorina leads DeVore, 31 percent to 19 percent.

“This is the last thing the governor is thinking about right now,” said Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Julie Soderlund.

Fiorina underwent breast cancer surgery Monday and went home Tuesday, according to her chief of staff, Deborah Bowker.

“Her prognosis is excellent,” Bowker said. “Her health does not limit her future options, and she’s looking forward to getting back out there.”

The poll found that voters were split when asked whether they are inclined to re-elect Boxer, with 42 percent saying they are inclined and 43 percent not. Boxer was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and is finishing her third term.

DiCamillo said Boxer historically has had similar or worse numbers before she won re-election.

“I think this shows people are frustrated, they think the country is on the wrong track, and any incumbent gets grief for that,” said Rose Kapolczynski, Boxer’s campaign consultant. “But when it goes from the abstract to the reality of choosing between two people, they come back to Senator Boxer.”

See Related: FIELD POLL

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