Jerry Brown (Democrat) defeated Meg Whitman (Republican) in the closely contested 2010 gubernatorial elections in California to replace incumbent two-term governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. This article presents an unbiased comparison of both candidates and their positions on social, economic and political issues.

Comparison chart

Jerry Brown versus Meg Whitman comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartJerry BrownMeg Whitman
  • current rating is 3.73/5
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(196 ratings)
  • current rating is 3.17/5
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(186 ratings)
Proposition 25 Support Oppose
Proposition 26 NO POSITION Support
Proposition 27 NO POSITION Oppose
Residence Oakland, California Atherton, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley, Yale Law School Princeton University (economics, 1977), Harvard Business School (MBA, 1979)
Religion Roman Catholic Presbyterian
Birth name Edmund Gerald Brown, Jr. Margaret Cushing Whitman
Occupation Attorney and politician Former President and CEO of eBay
Born April 7, 1938 (1938-04-07) (age 72), San Francisco, United States August 4, 1956 (1956-08-04) (age 54), Cold Spring Harbor (Long Island) New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic Party Republican
Spouse(s) Anne Gust Griffith Rutherford Harsh IV, neurosurgeon
Proposition 19 Oppose Oppose
Proposition 20 NO POSITION Support
Proposition 21 NO POSITION Oppose
Proposition 22 NO POSITION Support
Proposition 23 Oppose Oppose
Proposition 24 NO POSITION Oppose

Early Life and Political Background

Jerry Brown has had an extensive political career; he was California Secretary of State (1971–1975), Governor of California (1975–1983), chair of the California Democratic Party (1989–1991), the Mayor of Oakland (1998–2006), and the Attorney General of California (2007–present). He ran for president in 1976, 1980, and 1992, but was unsuccessful in securing the Democratic party nomination. Since Brown's first two terms as Governor of California were before 1990 (when term limits came into effect), he is not barred from running for Governor again.

Meg Whitman does not have a background in politics. She is best known for being the CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School, Whitman has served as an executive at Procter & Gamble, The Walt Disney Company and DreamWorks. She is a billionaire and the fourth wealthiest woman in California according to Forbes.

Economic Policy and Job Creation

With the state of California facing a severe budget deficit, voters are concerned about economic policy.

Jerry Brown's plan

Brown's economic proposals as outlined in his "jobs plan" include:

Meg Whitman's plan

Whitman's proposals for job creation include:

Pension Reform

When the question of California's "pension problem", i.e. the cost of paying out pensions spiraling out of control, was posed to both candidates during the debate[1], Jerry Brown:

Whitman pointed out that it's difficult to negotiate with public employee unions if they are funding your campaign (a barb at Jerry Brown). She went on to outline her proposals, which sounded similar to Brown's proposals:

Stand on Regulation

Rhetoric from both candidates suggests they want to cut regulation in an effort to spur employment. Brown's proposals to cut regulation include:

Whitman's proposals are more specific:

Education Policy

Both candidates have proposals outlining their education policy.

Jerry Brown's education plan includes the following proposals:

Whitman's proposals include:

Social Issues

Position on Healthcare Reform

Brown supported a single-payer health care system when he was running for president in the 80s and 1992, but has said he would be hesitant to create a government-run health care system in the state. Instead, he suggested Congress should pass President Obama's plan for expanded health care at the national level.[3]

Meg Whitman proposed that California should move to block the newly signed national healthcare plan because it would deepen the state's budget deficit.[4]

Position on Same-Sex Marriages

Proposition 8, which was approved by voters in California, denies gay and lesbians couples the right to get married. Jerry Brown opposes Proposition 8 and as Attorney General, he refused to defend it when it was challenged in court.

Meg Whitman supports Proposition 8. However, she supports civil unions and believes that gay marriages that took place before Prop. 8 was passed should be recognized and that gay couples should be allowed to adopt children.[5]

Position on Abortion

Whitman voted in favor of California Proposition 4, an initiative that requires minors to notify a parent prior to undergoing an abortion, except in certain cases. Whitman supports abortion rights, but not late-term abortion.

Jerry Brown has come out strongly in support of women's abortion rights, saying he planned on pushing budget reforms to aid access for low-income women if elected governor in November.[6]

Position on Gun control

Brown is of the opinion that possessing guns is a constitutional right and that Californians shouldn't have to give it up. Meg Whitman, who doesn't own a gun, supports the Second Amendment but maintains that a ban on assault weapons and handgun restrictions are in the best interest of the state.

Election Campaign Highlights

Whitman has been spotted at 10 public events since the primaries as opposed to 26 by Jerry Brown. However, it is speculated that Whitman will be very dominant on the airwaves until fall when Brown proposes to launch his campaign targeting her ethics with a $23 million backup that is being saved for the purpose.[7]

Meg Whitman continues to pump in money for the election and has mentioned that she would put in a total $150 million of her own money into campaigns and other promotional ventures.[8]


Here are videos from the first televised debate between Whitman and Brown at UC Davis:

Whitman vs Brown Opinion Polls

The Brown vs Whitman race is one of the most closely contested elections in 2010.

Poll source Date(s) administered Jerry Brown (D) Meg Whitman (R)
FOX News/POR-Rasmussen October 16, 2010 48% 43%
Reuters (report) October 12-14, 2010 48% 44%
Rasmussen Reports October 13, 2010 50% 44%
Angus Reid Public Opinion October 6, 2010 53% 41%
Reuters/Ipsos October 4, 2010 50% 43%
Rasmussen Reports October 3, 2010 49% 44%
CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation September 24-28, 2010 52% 43%
PPIC September 19-26, 2010 37% 38%
The Los Angeles Times/USC September 15-22, 2010 49% 44%
Survey USA September 19-21, 2010 46% 43%
Rasmussen Reports September 20, 2010 47% 46%
Fox News/Pulse Opinion Research September 18, 2010 45% 45%
Field Poll September 14-21, 2010 41% 41%
Public Policy Polling September 14-16, 2010 47% 42%
FOX News September 11, 2010 43% 49%
CNN September 2-7, 2010 46% 48%
Rasmussen Reports September 6, 2010 45% 48%
Survey USA August 31-September 1, 2010 40% 47%
Rasmussen Reports August 24, 2010 40% 48%
Survey USA August 9-11, 2010 43% 44%
Rasmussen Reports August 3, 2010 43% 41%
Public Policy Polling July 23-25, 2010 46% 40%
Rasmussen Reports July 12, 2010 46% 47%
Survey USA July 8-11, 2010 39% 46%
The Field Poll June 22-July 5, 2010 44% 43%
Reuters June 30, 2010 45% 39%
Rasmussen Reports June 9, 2010 45% 44%
USC/Los Angeles Times May 19–26, 2010 44% 38%
Rasmussen Reports May 24, 2010 45% 41%
Public Policy Polling May 21–23, 2010 48% 36%
Research 2000 May 17–19, 2010 46% 42%
Public Policy Institute of California May 9-16 2010 42% 37%
Rasmussen Reports April 19, 2010 44% 38%
USC/Los Angeles Times March 23–30, 2010 41% 44%
Public Policy Institute of California March 24, 2010 39% 44%
The Field Poll March 17, 2010 43% 46%
Rasmussen Reports March 15, 2010 40% 40%
Research 2000 March 10, 2010 45% 41%
Rasmussen Reports February 15, 2010 43% 43%
Public Policy Institute of California January 27, 2010 41% 36%
Rasmussen Reports January 19, 2010 43% 39%
The Field Poll January 5–17, 2010 46% 36%
Public Policy Institute of California December 16, 2009 43% 37%
Rasmussen Reports November 17, 2009 41% 41%
The Field Poll Sept. 15–Oct. 5, 2009 50% 29%
Rasmussen Reports September 24, 2009 44% 35%
Research 2000 August 9, 2009 42% 36%
Rasmussen Reports January 14, 2009 40% 38%


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