Former California Congressman Tom Campbell's decision Jan. 14 to drop his candidacy for the state's governor's office and instead vie for the U.S. Senate seat has changed the face of both races, according to recent polls.
The move has impacted the campaigns of two former CEOs of major IT companies who are seeking election in California.
Campbell's decision has given ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman a huge boost in her campaign for the GOP nomination in the gubernatorial race, while knocking former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina into second place for the Republican nomination for the Senate, The Field Poll found in surveys Jan. 21 and 22.
Before leaving the campaign to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Campbell trailed Whitman for the GOP nomination by 14 points, and led State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner by 13 points.
With Campbell out of the way, Whitman opened up a 28 point advantage over Poizner, with 45 percent of likely Republican voters surveyed saying they favored Whitman, The Field Poll found Jan. 22.
"With the departure [of Campbell], businesswoman Meg Whitman has opened up a substantial lead over her lone remaining GOP rival," pollsters Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field said in a statement.
By contrast, Campbell's move to the Senate race knocked Fiorina into second place in the GOP primary campaign, where 30 percent of likely Republican voters said they would vote for the former congressman, The Field Poll said in a release Jan. 21.
Fiorina had 25 percent of those votes, with California Assemblyman garnering 6 percent.
However, in both races, there is still a large undecided population of voters-with 38 percent in the gubernatorial race and 39 percent in the Senate race.
News reports out of California suggested Campbell switched races in part to reduce the number of multimillionaires he'll have to run against from two to one. Both Whitman and Poizner have spent millions of their own dollars in their campaigns.
Fiorina is the only millionaire in the race for the GOP nomination for Senate.
According to The Field Poll surveys, whoever wins the GOP nomination in either race faces a tough challenge in the general election. Incumbent Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer holds a 10-point lead over Campbell and a 15-point lead over Fiorina. Boxer's lead over Fiorina remains about the same as it was before Campbell entered the race, according to The Field Poll.
The only Democrat running for governor is ex-Gov. Jerry Brown, who holds a 10-point lead over Whitman.
In both cases, name recognition is important, according to The Field Poll. Boxer is much better known than anyone in the GOP field, including Fiorina, and Brown has been a political figure in California for more than 40 years.
The primary elections in California are scheduled for June 8.