Public approval of Gov. Jerry Brown has dipped from a high point earlier this year, but he continues to enjoy support from a majority of California voters, according to a Field Poll being released today.
Among registered California voters, 51 percent approve of the job Brown is doing as governor, down six points from February.
But just over two-fifths of California voters – 43 percent – say they are inclined to re-elect him next year, while 19 percent are undecided.
"A fairly large chunk of people are on the sideline waiting to see who is running," said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.
"This really indicates to me that voters aren't paying attention to state politics in terms of next year's election. They would like to know who's running before they give an opinion."
Less than a year before the primary election, three potential GOP contenders have emerged – Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks, former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and investor and former U.S. Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari.
Rob Stutzman, a GOP political consultant, said he was surprised that more voters weren't ready to re-elect Brown, given his 51 percent approval rating.
"What that shows is that yes, he's vulnerable to being defeated if there is a well-organized well-funded candidate with an appealing message," Stutzman said.
"It shows you how willing voters are to take a look around for an alternative. But I would not expect Jerry Brown to take anything for granted."
The Field Poll found Brown is most popular with voters who are 65 or older and those who have at least a college degree.
Karin Olson, a retired state auditor who lives in Loomis, said she is inclined to vote for Brown if he runs for another term next year – even though she said she did not vote for him in 2010.
"It kind of surprises me, but I guess I'm not as displeased as I thought I'd be with him in office the second time around," said Olson, a 64-year-old Republican who responded to the Field Poll telephone survey.
"It seems like he hasn't been quite as liberal as we expected."
Linda Griego, a 67-year-old Democrat, praised Brown's handling of the state budget.
"It seems that we're climbing out of the debt we're in," said Griego, a Rio Linda resident who is retired from a career working at the Blue Diamond almond factory in Sacramento.
"I believe he truly looks at the whole spectrum and the whole picture of California. I am not saying I approve of everything he's done, but overall based on what he's done in the time since he's been elected, I would re-elect him."
But Ernest Turley, 80, said he would not vote for Brown because of the governor's support for gay marriage.
"We voted, and neither he nor the attorney general supported Prop. 8 even though we, as a state, did. I was real disappointed in that," said Turley, a Republican who lives in Rancho Cordova.
Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @laurelrosenhall.