SAN JOSE, Calif. – California voters polled as new allegations were surfacing last week about Arnold Schwarzenegger's (search) treatment of women still favored the Republican actor over the front-running Democrat by a slim margin and supported recalling Gov. Gray Davis (search).
The Knight Ridder poll, released late Saturday, found voters surveyed Wednesday through Saturday favored removing Davis, 54 percent to 41 percent.
The percentage of people saying they would definitely vote to oust Davis, however, declined each day the poll was conducted, from 52 percent Wednesday to 44 percent Saturday. Those saying they either were probably going to vote for the recall or were unsure how to vote increased from 10 percent Wednesday to 24 percent Saturday.
The poll surveyed 284 people on Wednesday and 200 on Saturday; margins of error for the day-to-day samples were not released with the poll results, which appeared on the Web site of The Mercury News of San Jose.
"What looks like is happening is people who thought they were going to vote yes are unsure," said Stuart Elway of Elway/McGuire Research, which conducted the poll for Knight Ridder.
The poll surveyed 1,000 California voters by telephone and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Schwarzenegger led the 135 replacement candidates with 36 percent in the poll, compared to 29 percent for Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (search).
On Thursday, the second day of the four-day polling period, Schwarzenegger was faced with allegations of sexual harassment in a Los Angeles Times report in which six women claimed the bodybuilder and actor had groped or sexually harassed them between 1975 and 2000.
Schwarzenegger apologized later Thursday to "those people that I have offended" and said he had "behaved badly sometimes." On Saturday, he went on the offensive, denouncing sexual harassment allegations as untrue and painting them as a late-stage effort to derail his campaign.
"They're trying to torpedo my campaign. They're trying to make me look bad out there so that people vote no," Schwarzenegger said during a campaign trail stop in Clovis.
An earlier poll that was conducted over the three days before the Times story about Schwarzenegger was published found the effort to recall Davis supported 57 percent to 39 percent, with a margin of sampling error of 4.8 percentage points. That poll, conducted by Field Research Corp. Monday through Wednesday, found Schwarzenegger leading Bustamante, 36 percent to 26 percent.