From The Sacramento Bee
Dan Smith – Bee Capitol Bureau Chief
New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a solid advantage with Californians likely to vote in the Feb. 5 Democratic presidential primary, but an old friend could significantly change the math should he decide to run, according to a Field Poll released Monday.
Former Vice President and 2000 party nominee Al Gore, who has waved off speculation that he may run again — but has not ruled it out entirely — pulled to within a handful of percentage points of Clinton when pollsters added his name to the mix.
“He is formidable in California,” said Mark DiCamillo, Field Poll director. “He makes it a very close race.”
The poll found Clinton with a comfortable 13-point head start over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, 41 percent to 28 percent, with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards lagging at 13 percent.
But when Gore’s name was offered as an alternative, Clinton’s support dropped 10 points to 31 percent, followed by Gore’s 25 percent and Obama’s 21 percent. Edwards fell to 8 percent.
California moved its presidential primary from June 2008 to Feb. 5 with the hope of having a bigger impact in the nominating process, and the candidates have followed. Top-tier hopefuls Obama, Clinton and Edwards have visited multiple times, and not just to raise campaign cash behind closed doors. All have campaigned publicly, with Obama, for one, drawing large crowds for rallies in Oakland and Los Angeles.