updated 9/28/2006 7:06:20 AM ET 2006-09-28T11:06:20

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides still has trouble connecting with members of his own party, two new polls show, and it's a gap he'll have to close quickly if he is to have a chance at unseating Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November.

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While 82 percent of Republicans back their candidate, just 57 percent of Democrats said they would vote for Angelides, according to a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. A Field Poll out Wednesday said Angelides had the support of 61 percent of Democrats.

"It's not a good place to be six weeks out," said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and the Media at California State University, Sacramento.

"Whether or not he can pick up enough steam to bring home the Democrats is anybody's guess," O'Connor said.

With Schwarzenegger dominating the airwaves with expensive ads and successful policy deals, it's been hard for Angelides to get his message out, O'Connor said.

Schwarzenegger had a 17-point lead among likely voters, 48 percent to 31 percent, in the Public Policy Institute's poll. The Field Poll said Schwarzenegger had a 10-point lead with likely voters.

Both showed at least 15 percent of Democrats are still undecided in the governor's race.

Angelides this week launched a new strategy by injecting the debate over the war in Iraq into the race. He pledged to lobby for the return of California's National Guard troops and rally other governors to do the same if he is elected.

The tactic is widely seen as an effort to secure votes from Democrats, who overwhelmingly disapprove of the war and President Bush's handling of it.

The Public Policy Institute surveyed 2,003 California adults by telephone from Sept. 13 to 20. It had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2 percentage points, with a higher margin for subgroups. The Field Poll interviewed 557 likely voters by telephone from Sept. 14 to 24. It had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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