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Poll shows about half support California recall

Davis: 'This shows real momentum' in fight to stay in office

California Gov. Gray Davis declined to endorse Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.
California Gov. Gray Davis declined to endorse Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- California Gov. Gray Davis says efforts to throw him out of office are losing steam after a weekend poll indicated only half of Californians would vote against him in the October recall election.

The Los Angeles Times poll published Sunday found that 50 percent of California voters support recalling Davis, down from 58 percent in a Field Poll last week.

Another 45 percent said they would vote to keep Davis in office, and 5 percent were undecided.

"Some polls have had us 20 points behind," Davis said on CNN's "Late Edition." "This shows real momentum, only 5 points behind."

The poll's margin of error was plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

Among the field of 134 possible successors, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat, leads Republican actor Arnold Schwarzenegger by 35 percent to 22 percent, the poll said.

Another Republican, state Sen. Tom McClintock, followed with 12 percent, followed by former Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, an independent, with 7 percent.

Fighting to keep his job, Davis declined to directly endorse Bustamante.

"The lieutenant governor is a good and decent person, and I think his entry into the race will actually get more people to get out and vote against the recall," Davis said.

The first part of the October 7 ballot will ask voters whether they want to toss Davis, who won a second term in November, out of office. The second part of the recall ballot will ask them to pick a replacement if the recall succeeds.

"If we get enough 'no' votes on the first question, then whatever Arnold Schwarzenegger does on the second question is of no significance," Davis said.

But Republican strategist Ed Rogers said the poll fails to take into account the motivations of likely voters.

"I would say, No. 1, the people to vote are the people that have problems with Gray Davis -- the people that feel most strongly," Rogers said.

"They don't want more of the same. The only candidate enthusiastically bringing voters to the ballot place is going to be Schwarzenegger."

Most of the state's congressional Democrats have urged voters to vote against the recall but to support Bustamante in case it succeeds.

California's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, has declined to endorse Bustamante, saying she will not vote for a replacement for Davis.

Feinstein called the recall effort "monumentally bad for California." She warned that replacing Davis in mid-term would bring disastrous economic and political consequences, adding: "What goes around comes around.

"I think my own political party, frankly, is weakening the situation with this sort of double proposition," she said on "Late Edition."

Davis' 2002 challenger, Republican businessman Bill Simon, who received only 6 percent of the vote in the Times poll, dropped out of the race Saturday. (Full story)

Commentator Arianna Huffington, another independent, drew 3 percent. Huffington has launched television ads aimed at persuading voters who have skipped recent elections to go back to the polls.

Huffington said Sunday that 13 million eligible voters did not turn out for the election in which Davis won a second term.

"You had only 7 million voting. Gray Davis was elected with 17 percent of eligible voters," she said on "Late Edition."

"That is really the message of our campaign: If we're going to bring people back to the political process, we have to have a real crusade to make them trust in the process again and come back, register and vote."

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