- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

A new California poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon losing ground to Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.
Mr. Simon trails Mr. Davis by 17 percentage points 47 percent to 30 percent.
The poll, conducted last weekend by Democratic pollster Jim Moore, sampled 500 California voters and showed Mr. Simon "dropping like a rock," according to Mr. Moore, whose poll in July showed the contest in a statistical dead heat, with Mr. Davis at 41 percent and Mr. Simon at 40 percent.
The latest findings in the poll were part of a two-week slide in poll tracking that suggests a $78 million jury award against Mr. Simon's investment firm in a business-fraud case has hurt the Republican challenger.
A larger, independent California Field Poll last month had shown Mr. Simon closing the gap with Mr. Davis to within 7 percentage points, but that poll was taken before a spate of bad publicity hit Mr. Simon.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) had scheduled a poll on behalf of Mr. Simon, the results of which were to have been available today or tomorrow to President Bush and his chief political strategist, Karl Rove. The poll was expected to help the White House decide whether to maintain active support of the Simon campaign or quietly pull the plug.
But the Simon campaign is refusing to discuss the poll or its results. "We're not going to discuss our internal polling," Mark Miner, communications director for the Simon campaign, said in an interview yesterday.
The RNC, which initially denied it was planning to do the poll for Mr. Simon, took a different tack yesterday. "There was discussion of doing a poll, but there has been no decision as to whether to go forward with it," RNC communications director Mindy Tucker said.
Other California Republican sources said, however, that the RNC canceled the poll after The Washington Times on Friday broke the news of the planned poll. The RNC and the Simon campaign had planned to publicize the poll only if the results had shown no significant damage to the Simon campaign.
Once the RNC's plan became public, however, the RNC and the Simon campaign decided it was too politically risky to conduct the poll and then try to keep the findings secret if they were negative, these California Republican sources said privately.
They said the Simon campaign, which has almost no money available for either major television advertising or comprehensive polling, hopes to field a poll later this month or early next month to provide a better guide for Simon campaign television advertising, which is expected to begin after Labor Day.
Mr. Bush was scheduled to appear in California on Aug. 23-24 for three separate Simon fund-raisers. His earlier appearances in the state on Mr. Simon's behalf accounted for more than half of the money the Simon campaign has raised.
Mr. Davis, though racked by headlines announcing his support of spending cuts for popular programs and tax increases in the face of a record $24 billion deficit, has raised more than five times as much in donations as Mr. Simon.
Mr. Moore said his polls show a "shift in party loyalties" has accounted for Mr. Simon's slipping support. "In the July poll, Davis was getting only 9 percent of the Republicans and Simon was getting 18 percent of the Democrats. Now the reverse has happened. Davis gets 18 percent of the Republicans and Simon gets 10 percent of the Democrats in [the latest] poll," he said.
The latest Moore poll also found a shift among independents toward Mr. Davis, who leads 48 percent to 16 percent among independent voters.
"Clearly, they are offended by Simon's fiscal revelations," Mr. Moore said. "The independents out here are very fiscally conservative and socially liberal and distrustful of Republicans' big-business disposition. And this just played into it."

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