Gov. Gray Davis retains a solid lead over Republican challenger Bill Simon just two weeks before Election Day, according to a new poll.

Davis is favored by 41 percent of likely voters to Simon's 31 percent, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey released Tuesday.

The Democratic governor led Simon 45 percent to 35 percent among likely voters in an Oct. 1 Los Angeles Times poll, and 40 percent to 32 percent in an institute poll last month.

Davis attributed the lead to his progress "on the bread and butter issues'' like schools and crime, where voters "know that we've made progress and they are giving us credit for that.''

Simon, though, said the poll "looks pretty good'' because Davis has been unable to increase his lead.

Also Monday, Simon picked up the endorsement of the influential California Farm Bureau Federation. Davis alienated farmers and growers by signing a farm worker mediation bill last month.

The telephone poll of 2,007 state residents — of which 1,538 were registered voters and 1,000 were likely voters — was conducted Oct. 7-15. The error margin was plus or minus 2 percentages points.