SACRAMENTO (AP) – Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, fighting for a fourth term, is leading Republican challenger Carly Fiorina in a Field Poll released Friday.

The survey found 49 percent of likely voters supporting Boxer, compared with 41 percent for Fiorina. One in 10 voters remains undecided.

The same poll taken last month found Boxer with an advantage of 6 percentage points among likely voters.

Boxer appears to be getting a boost from a Democratic statewide voter registration advantage. She also is favored by independent voters, who support her 49 percent to 32 percent over Fiorina.

Fiorina returned to the campaign trail Thursday after being hospitalized for an infection related to reconstructive surgery after battling breast cancer. She dismissed the suggestion that she lost two days of critical campaign time.

“Politics is a big team effort,” Fiorina told reporters during a visit with supporters in suburban Sacramento. “And when I was in the hospital taking care of myself, we had a fantastic team at work.”

Voters’ impressions of the two women are divided, although the latest poll shows voters have a less negative view of the incumbent seeking a fourth term than they did in July.

As voters get to know Fiorina, her ratings have split, as well.  An equal number of likely voters — 42 percent—view her favorably and unfavorably.

Among those surveyed who had already voted, Boxer led 48 percent to 42 percent. And among those planning to vote on Election Day, Boxer holds a 9-point lead.

Boxer has an advantage among Latino voters, 64 percent to 29 percent. She also holds big leads among other ethnic groups, as well as female voters.

The poll surveyed 1,092 likely voters by telephone from Oct.  14-26. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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