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Poll: Boxer Opens Leads Over Fiorina

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(L-R) California U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina and Sen. Barbara Boxer. (AP)

(L-R) California U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina and Sen. Barbara Boxer. (AP)

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SACRAMENTO (KCBS/AP) – A new Field Poll confirms what two other surveys said earlier this week: Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has opened up a lead over Republican Carly Fiorina.

The poll gives Barbara Boxer a growing lead in her fight to return to the U.S. Senate. It’s the third survey this week to show the Democrat pulling away from Republican challenger Carly Fiorina.

Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said while this may be a bad year for incumbents, the incumbent Boxer is winning by six points. Of likely voters surveyed,  47 percent say they will vote for Boxer, and 41 percent say they’ll vote for Fiorina.

“The biggest change has to do with Carly Fiorina,” said DiCamillo. “She now is viewed more negatively than positively.

DiCamillo surmised that the new numbers have much to do with the advertising that the Boxer campaign has done.  “It has had the intended effect,” said DiCamillo.

Boxer enjoyed a 12-to-1 cash advantage over Fiorina in the latest campaign reports, made public early in the summer.

Boxer began running advertisements Sept. 13, the day before polling began for the survey, while Fiorina did not launch her first statewide TV ad until Thursday.

Boxer opened with a television ad highlighting her accomplishments in Congress, then released an ad accusing Fiorina of enriching herself as a corporate executive while laying off thousands of workers at Hewlett-Packard Co. and shipping jobs overseas.

Fiorina’s first ad of the general election attacks Boxer’s “arrogance” when she asked an Army Corps of Engineers general during a committee hearing to call her “senator,” rather than “ma’am.”

Fiorina said Friday that the poll numbers weren’t surprising given the timing of Boxer’s ads. She said swing voters are very important, and her campaign will target them.

“The Field Poll says that Barbara Boxer, having spent millions of dollars in deceptive advertising and taking her best shot, hasn’t moved her own numbers one bit,” said the GOP candidate. “There’s been a pretty small but predictable impact on me. Now we’re on air.”

Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski said voters are starting to assess Fiorina’s record.

“The latest Field Poll shows that when voters see the clear choice in this election, they reject Carly Fiorina’s record of layoffs, outsourcing and perks,” Kapolczynski said in a statement.

The poll surveyed 857 registered voters from Sept. 14 to Sept. 21 and has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. Among likely voters, the poll has a sampling error of 5.8 percentage points.

For Fiorina supporters, the November election is shaping up as a referendum on Boxer, who is seeking a fourth term in the Senate.

Two-thirds of Fiorina’s supporters said they are motivated more by their dislike of Boxer than their enthusiasm for Fiorina.

Unlike GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, who has made inroads with women and Hispanics, Boxer has maintained the lead among those groups. Likely female voters favor Boxer 46 percent to 40 percent. The senator has 48 percent support among likely Hispanic voters, compared to 29 percent for Fiorina.

That means Fiorina will have to get independent voters to turn out for her in November, DiCamillo said. The Field Poll found independents favoring Boxer 46 percent to 40 percent over Fiorina, with 14 percent of them undecided.

“The path to success for Fiorina will probably be somewhat different than for Whitman,” DiCamillo said. “Fiorina has less of an opportunity just because her stances really run counter to where most Democrats are. In my judgment, she’s going to have to win nonpartisans by double-digit margins.”

Democrats have a registration edge in California of about 13 percentage points.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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